Benefits of Technology in Patient-Centered Medical Homes

Girish Navani
Girish Navani

Guest post by Girish Navani, CEO, eClinicalWorks.

According to Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative, the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is a “model or philosophy of primary care that is patient-centered, comprehensive, team-based, coordinated, accessible, and focused on quality and safety.” PCMHs power business and clinical processes by using clinical decision support tools to connect patients with members of their healthcare team to improve both the patients’ and the providers’ experience of care. This coordination encourages a stronger physician-patient relationship, leading to better care delivery, more involved and engaged patients and reduced avoidable costs.  According to the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), these models are “transforming primary care practices into what patients want, focusing on patients themselves and all of their healthcare needs. They also are foundations for a healthcare system that gives more value by achieving the ‘triple aim’ of better quality, experience and cost.”

The NCQA recognizes over 10 percent of U.S. primary care practices as patient-centered medical homes. In order to be recognized by the NCQA, these primary care practices must offer access both afterhours and online, allowing patients to receive care when and where they need it. They work with patients to make treatment decisions based on individual preferences and help patients engage in their own health. The practice as a whole works as a team to coordinate care from other providers and community resources to maximize efficiency. Additionally, PCMHs focus on preventive care and the management of chronic conditions to prevent complications and emergencies.

The technology used in the PCMH model helps providers use their resources and their staff efficiently and effectively to meet the healthcare needs of their patients. These tools provide the healthcare staff with the information needed to provide the best care, which then helps to improve the patient’s health. Features of the technology used in PCMH that are effective in supporting the medical home include clinical decision support, order sets and registry reporting. These systems also capture patient information, manage referrals, enable electronic prescribing, allow communication directly with patients, and compile comprehensive electronic health records, amongst other features.

Communication, patient engagement and preventive care are key aspects of the medical home model of healthcare. Through communication, a stronger relationship is built between a physician and the patient as they work towards the type of healthcare that fits the needs of the patient. This model also encourages patient engagement, as patients are able to connect with their physicians even after business hours and conveniently via the internet. As patients engagement increases and doctors are able to communicate with their patients as often as needed, this helps to manage illnesses and prevent avoidable health conditions. These three aspects of PCMHs work together to be a successful healthcare model for both patients and providers. Doctor visits will no longer feel rushed or sporadic, but instead, care is available whenever needed.

Technology such as electronic health records (EHRs) is important in providing doctors and patients access to health information in patient-centered medical homes. Tools and technology used in the PCMH model helps to take this information to the next level by actively assisting providers in giving quality care. Having these health records readily available and accessible to physicians helps to improve the quality and safety of the care provided to the patient.

These patient-centered medical homes focus on the patient and their needs.  It is important to understand the needs of the patient and the best way to care for the patient. Therefore, tools that help the healthcare organization measure patient satisfaction are an important aspect of PCMHs, as the feedback helps to improve the physician-patient relationship, as well as the quality of care given to the patient.

Technology plays an important role in the success of patient-centered medical homes and how it functions.  Technology like EHRs and patient management tools used in PCMHs provides team members of the healthcare organizations with easy access to patient healthcare information and helps them to better understand what the patient needs. Additionally, these technologies have tools to track illnesses, run reports, and provide the healthcare organization with overall efficiency. As a result, these healthcare professionals providing care through patient-centered medical homes are able to focus on their patients’ needs and provide them with the best care while also preventing avoidable illnesses and costs over time.

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