Patient-Centered Medical Home Rating Tied to Operating Costs

Two subscales of the medical home linked to increased costs; one subscale linked to reduced costs

TUESDAY, June 26 (HealthDay News) -- Federally funded community health centers with higher scores on a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) rating have higher operating costs, according to a study published online June 24 in the Journal of the American Medical Association to coincide with presentation at the Annual Research Meeting of AcademyHealth, held from June 24 to 26 in Orlando, Fla.

To investigate whether PCMH rating correlates with operating costs, Robert S. Nocon, M.H.S., from the University of Chicago, and colleagues assessed PCMH rating through surveys of health center administrators from 669 community health centers. The surveys rated total PCMH score and six subscales on a 0 to 100 scale (worst to best). Uniform Data System reports submitted to the Health Resources and Services Administration were used to determine costs.

The researchers found that a 10-point increase in the total PCMH score correlated with a $2.26 (4.6 percent) higher operating cost per patient per month, for the average health center. Among PCMH subscales, a 10-point higher score for patient tracking and quality improvement subscales correlated with higher operating costs per physician full-time equivalent ($27,300 and $32,731, respectively) and with higher operating costs per patient per month ($1.06 and $1.86, respectively). A 10-point higher score on access/communication subscale correlated with reduced operating cost per physician full-time equivalent ($39,809).

"This study confirms that sizable and ongoing investments are needed to create and sustain medical homes," write the authors of an accompanying editorial.

The Commonwealth Fund, which funded the study, conducted the survey used in analysis.

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