Statewide Care Program May Be National Model

Community Care of North Carolina has significantly improved quality and reduced costs

TUESDAY, July 15 (HealthDay News) -- In North Carolina, an innovative community care program improves quality and reduces costs and may be a model for other states to follow, according to an article published in the July/August issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Beat D. Steiner, M.D., of the Medicine University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues describe Community Care of North Carolina, a 10-year-old program that was created by North Carolina Medicaid and is organized and operated by practicing community physicians.

The researchers report that the community networks, in partnership with hospitals, health departments and departments of social services, have significantly improved quality and reduced costs. They estimate that the program now saves at least $160 million each year in North Carolina.

The article "is step one in informing the medical community of an important innovative model," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "I hope there will be a step two: information (both quantitative data and qualitative interview material) from a sampling of the 1,200 practices to describe what improvements the practices have made, how widespread these improvements are, and how the clinicians in these practices view the endeavor. In the meantime, it is prudent to heed the authors' conclusion that Community Care of North Carolina 'is a model of care that has moved beyond theory and could be implemented across the country.'"

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