Questions for Esther Hing, Survey Statistician and Lead Author on “Characteristics of Primary Care Physicians in Patient-Centered Medical Home Practices: United States, 2013”
Q: Can you define what a patient-centered medical home (PCMH) practice is?
EH: One of several PCMH definitions is that PCMHs provide care that is: comprehensive care provided by a team of providers, patient-centered care, coordinated care, has accessible services, and care focused on quality and safety.
Q: Why did you decide to do a report on PCMH practices?
EH: Although the PCMH has been advocated by the “primary care community” for more than a decade, there are no national estimates that describe characteristics of this model of care delivery. “Primary care community” includes primary care physicians as well as other primary care providers and associated professional societies. The report, based on questions funded by the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), will inform policy makers of the prevalence of certified PCMH practices in the United States, as well as care attributes of these practices (compared with non-PCMH practices).
Estimates not only serve as benchmark estimates for this model of primary care, but adds to the knowledge base about this type of practice. Payers and the federal government have increasingly funded PCMH demonstrations, and certain payers and states have also increased funding to practitioners in PCMH practices.
Q: Is the first time NCHS has published a report on this topic?
EH: Yes, this is the first year that the PCMH questions have been reported.
Q: What did your report find on primary care physicians in PCMH practices?
EH: The report found that primary care physicians in PCMH practices tended to be in larger practices, and located in urban areas. These findings may be attributed to infrastructure requirements needed for PCMH care delivery. It may also reflect that in 2013, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) demonstrations and payment policy supporting chronic care was not yet implemented or was in early stages of development.
Q: Were there any findings that surprised you?
EH: The finding that a substantial percentage of non-PCMH practices have non- physician clinicians and Electronic Health Records suggests that there is untapped potential for a greater number of primary care practices to become PCMHs.
However, the relatively lower participation by solo and small practices as PCMHs suggests the need for assistance or coaching to make this transformation. The ongoing implementation of payment incentives from CMS and elsewhere has encouraged growth of PCMHs. This is a trend that the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NAMCS) can be used to examine for the next few years and beyond.