Better together: Medical homes and value-based designs

Patient-centered medical homes are more likely to improve quality of care and reduce costs when they're coupled with value-based insurance designs. Other necessary ingredients include effective clinical information support systems and a strong cross-organization infrastructure, according to a Health Affairs blog post.

Although companies are interested in the concept of medical homes, they're seeking evidence that they can actually achieve promised goals--especially after a February study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found medical homes might not be as effective as originally hoped.

"They seem to provide an antidote for a healthcare system that typically coordinates care quite poorly," Suzanne Delbanco, executive director of Catalyst for Payment Reform, wrote in the blog. "But at the end of the day, they also want to see a return on investment for the care coordination fees, which today, feel like a cost plus approach."

So insurers must work to educate and offer incentives for their members to obtain primary care from providers participating in medical homes. That could include reduced copays for primary care visits and completely covered drugs to help manage chronic illness.

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