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What patients want: New tools ease path to medical home


More than 70% of primary care and multispecialty practices are on the path to becoming Patient-Centered Medical Homes, according to a new study, and some new technology is helping them gather the patient information they need to achieve that status. Learn about some products that can help your practice conduct affordable patient surveys.

More than 70% of primary care and multispecialty practices are on the path to becoming a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), according to a recent survey conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

The Patient-Centered Medical Home-2011 Status and Needs Study found that nearly 36% of practices interested in becoming a PCMH were family medicine. The next-largest group was multispecialty practices with primary and specialty care (more than 30%) followed by pediatrics at more than 10%.

Attaining PCMH status requires knowing what patients want, and for many small to mid-sized practices, the surveys that provide critical information about patients’ perceptions have been out of reach financially.

That may change with the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and Avatar International’s introduction of an online patient survey portal to help these practices gather the information they need affordably and securely.

To keep the time and expense involved to a minimum, participating practices give patients secure access codes that enable them to complete the survey at their convenience. The online format enables the practice to review results in real-time while providing anonymity to responders.

As a result, the portal, which is available for purchase through AAFP, “arms family physicians with tools that enable them to act upon the results to deliver a quality patient experience at every encounter,” says Roland A. Goertz, MD, MBA, AAFP president.

MGMA also provides a tool useful for practices pursuing PCMH certification. The Patient-Centered Medical Home Guidelines: A Tool to Compare National Programs enables practices to see how various national programs stand up against the guidelines recommended by the AAFP, American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Physicians, and the American Osteopathic Association.

Once practices were able to ascertain patient interests and move toward the patient home concept, they faced other challenges, according to the survey. Those included:

establishing care coordination agreements with referral physicians;
financing the transformation;
coordinating care for high-risk patients;
modifying or adopting the electronic health record system for PCMH use;
projecting practice revenue, costs, etc. of transformation to PCMH.

Go back to the current issue of eConsult.

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health