Patient Centered Medical Homes: A New Model for EHR Maximization

A growing problem in healthcare today is a shortage of providers available to offer primary care solutions to patients. Most students have extensive debt upon completing their medical education, and the idea of entering a low-paying field that might cause them to spend more of their professional career in debt. The percentage of medical school graduates who opt for some sort of specialist training, either as part of their residency or with a fellowship after completing an internal medicine residency is too high to sustain an acceptable level of access for patients to quality primary care.

The non-profit group National Committee for Quality Assurance has set out a series of criteria for measuring the success of a medical home model in place. One of the fundamental criteria set out is a quality EHR system to guide the interactions and interchange of information, which is among the things that EHR systems were designed to take advantage of. The interactions required to make this model work are central to the features of an EHR, from both quick and more advanced communication to tracking of results and tests amongst multiple providers. Additionally, it allows analytical models within a population. Data from the system can be used to track all sorts of achievements, measuring care levels and seeing which patients have not reached certain levels of care. This makes it easier to manage care, not as isolated encounters, but with the focus on a patients ongoing health and outcome.

It could be argued that the advantages of an EHR, while useful in all systems, are best suited for a Medical Home model. While the popularity of the medical home model is still reasonably new, the ideas behind it are not. Not only has the concept been around since 1967, but it is driven by basic concepts, not limited to many of the requirements set forth as part of Meaningful Use. Whether the model will stick as a common method for managing care is yet to be seen, but the tools are there to make it work, and like many ideas for change, all it will take is people willing to make the effort.

Further Reading:

HHS: What is PCMH

Allscripts case study on the use of PCMH

Recommended Core Measures for Evaluating the Patient-Centered Medical Home: Cost, Utilization, and Clinical Quality

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