Patient-Centered Medical Homes: Do They Work?

A Capitol Hill Briefing

The federal government has launched demonstration projects to test whether patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) can tackle some of the biggest problems facing the nation’s health care system. Advocates are holding out hope that medical homes will help to slow the growth of health care spending while improving the quality of care. The medical home is a model that aims to transform the organization and delivery of primary care. The PCMH model focuses on personalized care, teamwork, and coordination of care to ensure that patient needs are met effectively and efficiently. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides opportunities for the PCMH model by supporting nationwide medical home demonstration projects administered by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI).

Why are we investing in testing the patient-centered medical home model? What does current evidence say about the impact of PCMH models? Can these models generate savings for the health care system down the road? Do primary care practices have the capacity and time to develop these models? What resources are necessary to ensure a functioning PCMH?  What is the status of the demonstration projects run under CMMI? What are some successes and challenges that active PCMHs have encountered? How else does the ACA provide support for patient-centered medical homes?

A distinguished panel of experts addressed these and related questions.

  • Meredith Rosenthal, professor of health economics and policy at Harvard University, discussed results from her latest evaluation of PCMHs and highlighted what is already known and what more we need to know about these models.
  • Sean Cavanaugh, from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, spoke about the Innovation Center’s activity with respect to PCMHs.
  • Barbara Tobias, medical director at Health Collaborative and Robert and Myfanwy Smith Professor at University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, provided an on-the-ground perspective of PCMHs, given her work with area practices participating in the CMMI Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative.
  • Dr. Robert Graham, chair of the Alliance board of directors and Melinda Abrams of The Commonwealth Fund moderated the discussion.
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