Colorado’s Patient-Centered Medical Home Pilot Met Numerous Obstacles, Yet Saw Results Such As Reduced Hospital Admissions

The Colorado Multipayer Patient-Centered Medical Home Pilot, which ran from May 2009 through April 2012, was one of the first voluntary multipayer medical home pilot projects in the country. Six health plans, the state’s high-risk pool carrier, and sixteen family or internal medicine practices with approximately 100,000 patients participated. Although a full analysis is currently under way, preliminary results show that the pilot significantly reduced emergency department visits and also reduced hospital admissions, particularly for patients with multiple chronic conditions. One payer reported a return on its investment of 250–400 percent in the pilot. However, participants also ran into numerous obstacles. Among them: Many practices were left providing extra services to a large fraction of patients whose employer-sponsored insurance plans declined to pay the enhanced fees necessary to cover the cost of the patient-centered medical home expansion. The experience demonstrates that creating patient-centered medical homes and enabling them to be successful will take strong commitments and collaborative efforts on multiple fronts.

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