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UAlbany Researchers Find Medical Home Care Enhances Quality and Decreases Emergency Room Utilization

More Study Needed to Assess Medical Home Effects on Hospital Utilization, Access and Patient Satisfaction

ALBANY, N.Y. (June 7, 2012) – A University at Albany study published recently in the health policy journal Medical Care Research and Review reveals patient-centered medical home (PCMH) care may enhance overall quality and decrease hospital emergency room utilization. Patient-centered care involves innovative primary care delivery improvements promoted heavily by U.S. health care reform legislation. The UAlbany study does find gaps however still exist regarding the PCMH’s effect on hospital utilization, access, health care costs, and patient satisfaction.

The review co-authored by UAlbany School of Public Health faculty, Timothy Hoff and Wendy Weller, along with graduate student Matthew DePuccio, examined evaluations of medical home care between 2007 and 2010. 

Home health care worker
A recent study by UAlbany researchers found medical home care is associated with certain quality outcomes such as enhanced prevention and better chronic disease management, as well as decreased ER use.

"Our review is one of the first and most comprehensive examinations of existing research looking at how medical homes impact different health outcomes," said Hoff. "What we found is that medical home care is associated with certain quality outcomes such as enhanced prevention and better chronic disease management, as well as decreased emergency room use by patients."

The review also suggests that early PCMH evaluations raise more questions than they answer regarding PCMH implementation and effectiveness.

"This research tells us little about the patient experience, if medical homes enhance care access, or about potential quality and cost tradeoffs associated with PCMH care," added Hoff.

UAlbany’s review also found existing PCMH research to be highly varied and difficult to integrate or compare. Few PCMH evaluations were designed to definitively illustrate that medical home care caused the observed changes in health outcomes.

According to the review's authors, the excessive variation observed in PCMH implementation and evaluation approaches calls for greater clarity regarding what medical home care really entails in everyday practice and what the minimum standards should be in judging its effectiveness.

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