Many folks still have questions about medical homes, so we thought we would try to answer some of your questions today.
Q. How does having a medical home benefit the patient?
Having a medical home means that you have a healthcare team to take care of you, headed by your primary care physician, who will coordinate your care and ensure good communication among your team members. The concept of “Care” appears to have evolved to “caring for the whole person,” so medical needs will certainly be addressed, but the patient’s social and family situation, mental health, and spiritual and emotional needs will also be considered.
Q. How is it different from having a PCP (Primary Care Physician)?
In some ways the concept isn’t that different. Your PCP should be the one who coordinates your care. Under this model, your PCP will work with an expanded team to ensure you are getting the care you need, at the right time, in the right place. Communication between team members is highlighted, and unnecessary care, such as duplicative tests, will be reduced, resulting in reduced costs.
Q. Will having a medical home cost me extra money?
This care model will not cost the patient any extra money. It is designed to enhance your health care while controlling costs to the system by ensuring you receive the care you need.
Q. Isn’t this just a ploy for insurance companies to save money?
No. U.S. healthcare costs have long been trending upwards and have been deemed unsustainable. Research reveals that inefficiencies in the healthcare system and lack of communication between providers have lead to unnecessary and expensive care. We need to streamline how care is delivered to reign in spending; the Medical Home model will provide the best, most appropriate care for the patient in an efficient, cost-effective way. Although this model will result in cost savings at all levels, the patient is definitely the main beneficiary. The medical home model is sensible and cost-effective.
Q. Does this mean I won’t be able to get the care I need or want?
In the medical home model, the patient, and family members, if the patient desires, are an integral part of the healthcare team. Your voice will be an important factor in your care. The idea is not to deny care, but to coordinate care to eliminate unnecessary duplications of tests.
Q. Will this delay me seeing a specialist?
Your PCP will coordinate your care and refer you to a specialist when necessary.
Q. Is this like a “death panel?”
No. Actually, there were no death panels in any of the proposed health care reform plans. The Medical Home model seeks to provide the best, most coordinated and efficient care to the patient. The patient’s health and wellness is the primary concern.
The Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative has this to say:
“We also know that primary care — a single and continuous source for comprehensive care that considers the whole person, along with his or her family and community — supported by up-to-date and complete information that allows medical professionals to make good clinical decisions, has a far different outcome.
“Research studies in countries where patient-physician relationships focus on primary care consistently show that people live longer, populations are healthier, patients are more satisfied with their care and everyone pays less. These ‘primary care providers’ do more preventive health counseling, perform more screenings and immunizations, and provide care advocacy and coordination that lead to lower rates of death for heart disease, cancer, and stroke; and lower rates of hospitalizations for ambulatory care sensitive diagnoses like pneumonia. Chronic condition management and medical errors and omissions are significantly reduced with this ‘patient-centered’ primary care.
“Primary care is not gate keeping or restricting access to care. A primary care practitioner is a partner in care, a coach, an advisor and the person who assumes overall responsibility for coordinating care among all heath service providers, always focusing on the best interests and personal preferences of the patient.” (PCPCC Patient Centered Medical Home)
The medical home concept is meant to provide the coordination of care that other models, such as HMOs, failed to achieve. It’s a cooperative effort utilizing the latest medical science has to offer while eliminating unnecessary tests and treatments.