Analysis of Changes in Quality, Utilization and Cost Following the Colorado Multi-Payer Patient-Centered Medical Home Pilot


A multipayer medical home program piloted in Colorado led to a sustained reduction in emergency department use and costs over three years, although there were no overall cost savings for practices or patients. Primary care visits also decreased. The impact on quality was mixed: cervical cancer screening rates improved, yet colon cancer screenings and hemoglobin testing for diabetes patients decreased.

The Issue

By delivering primary care services in a proactive, coordinated manner, the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) aims to improve health outcomes for patients, particularly those with multiple or complex care needs. The PCMH also aims to lower costs, largely by diminishing the need for expensive hospital stays and emergency department visits. To date, research on the effects of the care model has yielded mixed results. Few studies, however, have evaluated outcomes beyond two years, even though evidence suggests that transforming practices into fully functioning PCMHs can take years. Researchers supported by The Commonwealth Fund evaluated a pilot program involving 15 PCMH practices in Colorado serving approximately 98,000 patients both prior to the program’s launch and then again at two and three years.

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