So this was interesting. We have all heard talk now for years about the medical home concept, and how this would help retain primary care physicians, increase patient satisfaction, and lower costs.
It would seem that now, someone has studied that.
The Group Health Home Cooperative performed a study comparing a medical home model with a control group.
“A medical home is like an old-style family doctor’s office, but with a whole team of professionals,” said Robert J. Reid, MD, an associate investigator at the Group Health Center for Health Studies and Group Health’s associate medical director for preventive care. “Together, they make the most of modern knowledge and technology– including e-mail and electronic medical records – to give patients excellent care and reach out to help them stay healthy.”
During the medical home pilot, each primary care doctor was responsible for fewer patients – a total of 1,800 patients, as opposed to 2,300. This reduction allowed physicians more time to coordinate care, have daily “team huddles” and allow for extended 30-minute office visits per patient.
The reduction in patient-to-physician ratio also created a need for extra staffing. The study found that the medical home was investing $16 more per patient per year, and that the home needed 72 percent more clinical pharmacists, 44 percent more physician assistants, 18 percent more medical assistants, 17 percent more registered nurses and 15 percent more primary doctors.
“Our evaluation showed these costs were recouped within the year,” Reid said. "The main reason was emergency room savings of $54 per patient in the course of the year.”
“These findings are important because they provide a 'proof-of-concept' that investments in a medical home can achieve relatively rapid returns across a range of key outcomes," he added.