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Health IT Basics

What is a Patient-Centered Medical Home?

A Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is a team-based model of care that begins with the primary care provider and coordinates care across multiple specialties to improve and maximize health outcomes. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality defines the PCMH as encompassing five principles1:

  • A patient-centered orientation toward the whole person that requires understanding the patient's and the family's preferences and providing the patient's entire range of care need.
  • Comprehensive, team-based care.
  • Care coordinated and/or integrated across all elements of the complex system.
  • Continuous access to care, with shorter waits to get appointments, enhanced hours, and alternative methods of communication.
  • A systems-based approach to quality and safety.

There are a number of certification/recognition organizations for Patient-Centered Medical Homes, including:

Electronic Health Records: A Foundational Investment

One of the important benefits of electronic health records (EHRs) and EHR adoption is that achieving meaningful use can position your organization at the forefront of the changing health care landscape. PCMH initiatives are closely aligned with components of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Meaningful Use program. While EHR adoption is not required to establish a PCMH, having an EHR will help your organization manage the volume of documentation required to establish and sustain a PCMH. There is considerable overlap between the meaningful use of EHRs and the establishment of a PCMH, and providers who achieve meaningful use will have a jumpstart on establishing a PCMH in their organizations.

You don’t have to choose meaningful use of EHRs over PCMH initiatives. In fact, an investment in EHRs is a foundational investment in PCMH.

Your Local Regional Extension Center Can Help

Working with your local Regional Extension Center (REC) is one of the best ways to prepare for the changing health care landscape and future health reform initiatives, including PCMH. RECs are located in every region of the country to help health care providers select, implement, and become adept and meaningful users of EHRs. Contact your local REC to find out if you are eligible for free or reduced-price support.

For More Information

For more information on the benefits of electronic health records, EHR adoption, and how EHRs can help you establish a PCMH, see the following resources.

References

  1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “Health Information Technology: Turning the Patient-Centered Medical Home From Concept to Reality.”