The Q Series: What is a Medical Home?

February 12, 2016 · Shireesha Jevaji

Giving Support

Q: What is a “medical home?”

Not to be confused with nursing home, a “medical home” doesn’t refer to an actual building of brick and mortar, but to a model of primary care where the patient is at the focal point of care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) introduced the concept in 1967. Initially, the medical home concentrated on children with special health care needs and was the source of a child’s medical records. Over time, the definition evolved to reflect the changing needs of the health care system.

Today’s medical home extends comprehensive primary care—or health care “from head to toe”—to patients in every stage of life. It puts the patient’s health care needs first, to emphasize quality and safety standards. The patient, family members and primary care doctor partner to team up with specialty physicians and other entities in the medical community.

This partnership is referred to as the “patient-centered medical home”—or “PCMH”—and it is widely accepted as the best method for organizing and delivering primary care. The concept to treat patients with respect and compassion, and to strengthen the patient-provider relationship.

Nearly nine years ago, four major primary care physician associations developed the Joint Principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home. As the model continues to develop, NCQA is working with key players to promote, and redesign, the medical home to improve the patient’s experience of care.

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