Washington health system invests in medical home model

February 20, 2009

One of Washington state's largest health systems is putting $20 million behind the concept of a patient-centered medical home.

One of Washington state's largest health systems is putting $20 million behind the concept of a patient-centered medical home.

The bulk of the investment for Seattle-based Group Health Cooperative, a nonprofit health system and insurance provider, was spent to increase the clinical support staff at its 26 primary care offices.

The additional nurses and physician assistants will help primary care physicians work as coordinators of care, a core principle of the patient-centered medical home concept, says Mike Foley, a spokesman for Group Health Cooperative, which began studying the medical home model two years ago at one of its offices.

Group Health also urges its primary care physicians, who are salaried employees, to spend a portion of their day corresponding with patients by e-mail or phone, eliminating unnecessary office visits.

"We predict the investment will pay for itself," Foley says.