Patient-Centered Medical Homes

A new way to deliver primary care may be more affordable and improve quality. But how widely adopted will the model be?

Patient-centered medical homes are considered by many to be among the most promising approaches to delivering higher-quality, more cost-effective primary care in the United States—especially for people with chronic health conditions. While there is no single standard definition, there is a largely agreed-upon set of guiding principles for medical homes. They include the concept that each patient has close, ongoing contact with a clinician for continuing care, and second, that this clinician takes the lead on referring the patient to specialists when needed.

Health care reform legislation authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to test medical homes. 

Supporters hope patient-centered medical homes will play a key role in refocusing the U.S. health care system on the benefits of primary care. HHS, the states and other payers and providers continue to experiment with the patient-centered medical home concept. The authors conclude that as this experimentation evolves, so too will the patient-centered medical home model.

This Health Policy Brief  examines recent projects that have applied patient-centered medical home concepts, as well as potential concerns over widespread adoption of the model before results are more fully understood. The brief was published online on September 14, 2010 in Health Affairs.