Medical homes have made great progress over the years. The idea of creating a patient-centric model focused on the whole person within the four walls of a medical practice is wonderful and greatly needed. But thanks to an ever-changing world, we’re now at a point where we need to think about redefining what the medical home should look like.
As healthcare shifts to a more value-based model, focused on quality, service and cost, we need to adjust our thinking concerning how, where, and to whom we deliver care. At the center of these changes is a shift in focus around who we serve and how they need and want to be served. This begins to sound more like a market-driven consumer model.
In healthcare, we have historically not viewed those we serve as consumers. But those we serve consume the services we provide, thus they’re consumers. These consumers are in need of different types of services at different times. If they’re very sick, they’re in need of high-end services. But, if they just need preventive services, or only information to help better manage their own conditions, what they need is very different. How and where we provide these services is what really defines a medical home.
My medical home is where I am, and changes depending on my needs. For example, if I need information on my chronic health condition, the room I’m in becomes an informational site. If I need a flu shot, I might be at work, school, or where I shop. If I need to be diagnosed and treated for a minor condition, I might be in a virtual room for an electronic visit. If I need of greater services, I might go to my physician’s office. Place of service and how those services are delivered should be dependent on the consumer’s needs, not just the provider location, even if all those services can be provided there.
As you can see, we need to expand our thinking on what comprises a medical home. For those we serve, we need to design models to meet their needs that include not only what we do, but where and how we do it. The medical home needs to be a home with many different rooms, serving multiple purposes.
As we shift to this new frame of reference, we also shift toward creating value for those we serve. Reframing the definition of medical homes will deliver high-quality care at a lower cost point in a model our consumers want, which is the true definition of value.