The Importance of a Medical Home

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

During an audio conference call last week that focused on strategies for reducing non-urgent emergency room usage, our two presenters, Roberta Burgess, clinical case manager, Community Care Plan of Eastern Carolina and Jerry Kiplinger, executive director, APS Healthcare, stressed the importance of the creation and use of a medical home as one strategy to reduce unnecessary ER usage.

As a relatively healthy woman without a whole lot of health issues (knock on wood), I found myself digging a little deeper into this concept. Examining my own healthcare utilization, I do agree that if I had had a medical home, I could have avoided a non-urgent visit I made to the ER within the last 18 months. I had taken a bad fall and thought I had a broken bone or two. Without a primary care or family physician to call my own (or should I say home), I went to the ER for the sole purpose of X-rays. Had I medical home to go to, I would have started there.

We’ve written quite a bit on ER utilization in the last few months. Most of the strategies seem to focus on the “frequent flyers” to the ER. While this is a critical part of an overall strategy, there is, I’m sure, an enormous opportunity to reduce even those non-frequent flyers, like myself, who did not have anywhere else to go.

I’m sure my “case study” gets repeated over and over again with slightly varying scripts among those who are not the classic frequent flyers. My health plan has not yet communicated with me about creating a “medical home,” but had they done so prior to my visit, I may not have made that visit.

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