Patient-Centered Medical Homes Saving Money

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield reports that patient-centered medical homes are saving even more money in their second year than they did in their first. CareFirst launched its patient-centered medical home program in 2011 with primary care providers serving one-third of its 3.4 million members in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and northern Virginia.

Savings for the second year of this program totaled $98 million, compared with savings of $38 million for its first year, according to figures released Friday by CareFirst.

“This is a very important finding, that a major health plan is able to achieve savings of this magnitude,” said Elliott Fisher of the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. Fisher is leading proponent of accountable care organizations like patient-centered medical homes.

A patient-centered medical home is not a place, it’s a way of delivering healthcare. The BlueCross BlueShield Association defines it as follows:

The PCMH is a model of healthcare based on an ongoing, personal relationship between a patient, doctor and the patient’s care team. Whatever the medical needs – primary or secondary, preventive care, acute care, chronic care, or end-of-life care – the patient has a medical “home”: a single, trusted doctor and care team, through which continuous, comprehensive and integrated care is provided.

Incentives for accountable care organizations are an important component built into the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Advocates say that the emphasis of medical homes on primary care and prevention will lead to major savings by reducing the need for hospital admissions.

“Patients of doctors in the program have fewer hospital admissions, fewer readmissions, and they spend fewer days in the hospital compared with CareFirst enrollees not in medical homes. There’s a dramatic difference,” said Michael Sullivan, a spokesman for CareFirst.

Click here to read more from Reuters, and here to read more in Modern Healthcare.

Saving Cash, photograph © 401(K) 2013 / flickr

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