The “patient-centric medical home model” has existed in concept for years without getting much attention, but it is finally becoming a reality. The model will be an integral component to improving health care by preventing many illnesses and diseases and will create a patient-centered experience for good health care.
Medical homes are not physical structures. The medical home model is a philosophy about how to deliver health care more effectively. Medical home models transcend the limitations of any physical office or infrastructure. Medical homes are led by physicians and create a symbiotic and balanced relationship among the entire patient care team, the patient, and the family. Medical homes will function as the center and catalyst for community-based collaborative care networks, which will expand people’s access to primary care and general health care services.
Medical homes will focus on disease prevention and management. The model facilitates collaborative and shared decision making among patients, physicians, and other caregivers by increasing and enhancing communication. Medical homes will emphasize the incorporation of patients’ preferences and values into their individualized medical plan. These new destinations in health care will focus on using educational tools or decision aids to help caregivers, patients, and their representatives understand the best preventative and proactive treatment options for the particular case of a patient. Health management compliments health care.
Through interacting with patients in a proactive manner, medical homes will help patients comply with their treatment plans through medication monitoring initiatives, therapy compliance plans, diet, good nutrition, and so forth. Physicians and other caregivers working in medical home models will concentrate on identifying patient health trends, such as changes in weight, blood pressure, fever, or blood counts, so that the care delivery team can address any material variation in a patient’s health sooner as opposed to being reactionary—true prevention. Better management of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart failure, lung diseases, clinical depression, and others will be a core goal for medical homes. As government and private payers of health care strive to control health care costs without reducing benefits, managing chronic diseases will become a critical component to the future of health care.
Twenty-first century physicians, employer health plans, and government payers, such as Medicare and Medicaid, will be the stakeholders ultimately driving and promoting the growth of medical home models. These stakeholders will embrace medical homes and use them as a key instrument to move America toward positive lifestyle choices, leading to wellness and prevention, versus focusing narrowly on sickness and treatment.
Medical homes have arrived. When patients experience these new models, they will not miss going to the “doctor’s office.” In fact, many people may never go back.
**Jonathan Fleece is the co-author of the bestselling book “The New Health Age: The Future of Health Care in America.” He leads the Health Care Practice Group at the Blalock Walters Law Firm in Sarasota and Manatee. Jonathan speaks at national conventions and on radio and television programs about his book and the exciting future of health care in America. See www.thenewhealthage.com and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.