Pediatric Medical Homes Improve Health and Lower Costs – Say Ahhh! A Children’s Health Policy Blog

Health reform is capturing all the headlines these days. And much of the emphasis is on how to contain costs. Unfortunately, what Americans aren’t hearing in the debate is a discussion about the proven ways to reduce costs while improving quality of care and health outcomes. The regrettable assumption is that containing costs means taking something away that I have or may need. This misconception is shaking the confidence of Americans who know that something has to be done to fix health care.

Instead of focusing on the politics, we should be promoting the models of health care delivery that are the “win-wins” we need for health care reform to work.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the success of Medicaid and pointed to the Community Care of North Carolina, a primary care medical home model which has shown outstanding results in improving access while reducing costs.

There is plenty more proof out there that the medical home model works. Take for example a recent article in Pediatrics that reports on a study by the Center for Medical Home Improvement (CMHI) in my home state of New Hampshire. The study shows improved outcomes for children with special health care needs when care is coordinated through a pediatric medical home model.

Parents who were surveyed in the study reported fewer hospitalizations, fewer absent schools days, less worry about their child’s health, and increased likelihood of having a written health care plan. Jeanne McAllister, Director of CMHI, points out that while a low percentage of children have complex needs that require extensive coordination among multiple agencies and providers, these children do account for about half of national expenses on pediatric healthcare.

The concept of “medical home” is a community-based primary care setting that provides and coordinates high quality, planned, family-centered health promotion, acute illness care and chronic condition management. Without a medical home as a centralized point of coordination, care can become fragmented, duplicative and overly specialized, particularly for those with chronic health conditions.

Instead of instilling fear in Americans that health reform will reduce their access to care, we need to highlight these very effective models that provide a much higher level of satisfaction with care, better health and enhanced quality of life. And, oh, by the way, they also save money. Money we can use to provide health coverage to everyone.

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