Don't Rush to Judgment: Medical Homes Can Improve Outcomes, Save Lives

We live in an age of immediacy, fueled by 24/7 news cycles and a robust social media environment. We find humor in watching a cat chase a laser pointer, but our pursuit of the new and shiny is no less present. One negative review can lead people to drop everything and change course. A restaurant can have a bad night, get a couple of negative reviews on Yelp, and find itself with empty tables as potential customers take their business elsewhere.

When it comes to health care, though, and decisions that affect the well-being of millions of Americans, immediacy shouldn't guide reforms or drive policy changes. It's prudent to assess research-grabbing headlines by taking a deep breath, maintaining a sense of perspective and not jumping to hasty conclusions.

This perspective is essential when reviewing a study that appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and has been garnering attention from theNew York Times, Wall Street Journal and other outlets. The study, conducted by researchers at RAND, casts doubts as to whether patient-centered "medical homes" -- a care delivery structure designed to support teams of physicians in actively monitoring patients' health conditions and increasing care coordination -- are actually meeting their goals of improving patient health and generating health system cost savings.

RAND studied the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chronic Care Initiative, a multi-payer medical home pilot that allowed practices to earn bonus payments for achieving medical home accreditation recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

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