Announcements: Opportunities to improve primary care services for adults with complex needs highlighted in new white paper and brief
Research Activities, March 2012
A white paper and brief highlighting opportunities to improve primary care services for adults with complex care needs were published in January by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Mathematica Policy Research. A summary of the white paper was published by the Annals of Family Medicine on January 9th.
The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is a model for strengthening primary care through the reorganization of existing practices. Its goal is to provide patient-centered, comprehensive, coordinated, and accessible care that is continuously improved through a systems-based approach to quality and safety. PCMH efforts have focused thus far on improved access to and coordination of medical services for all patients.
However, patients with more complex health care needs require more intensive medical services coordinated across multiple providers, as well as a wide range of social supports to maintain health and functioning. Two groups of community-dwelling patients have especially complex health and social support needs: frail elderly and working-age adults with disabilities. Medical homes face many challenges in providing optimal care to these patients. The brief and white paper address how decisionmakers can help smaller primary care practices become effective PCMHs for patients with complex care needs, and what research would aid this process.
The decisionmaker brief offers programmatic and policy changes that can help primary care practices, especially smaller ones, better deliver services to all patients, including those with the most complex health needs. The white paper provides a more in-depth look at the strategies that are available to help primary care practices coordinate the full range of requisite medical and social services, and perform as effective medical homes for patients with complex care needs. It profiles five exemplary programs and demonstrates how each has developed specific approaches to serve these patients. It also offers insights both on ways decisionmakers can support these innovative approaches and how researchers can illuminate the path to primary care transformation.
You can access these publications and other resources at the PCMH Web site at http://www.pcmh.ahrq.gov.