Community Connections Expand the Medical Home

Friday, December 18th, 2009
This post was written by Melanie Matthews

Liz Reardon, a healthcare consultant, president of Reardon Consulting and a member of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare’s Integration Consulting Team, discusses the reasons why connecting with the community would be essential in establishing a medical home.

If asked to give a single piece of advice to organizations contemplating establishing a medical home for their members, Liz Reardon advises that they “connect with community resources rather than trying to duplicate them in the practice.”

“A hospital system I worked with has a number of hospitals and practices and is initiating a major medical home initiative. We were talking about some of their challenges [regarding the medical home]. We were talking about this community piece and trying to figure out how much responsibility they had for making connections around dietary counseling or exercise programs — or not just for a Medicaid population but certainly the social services that people might need. They were spending a lot of time trying to maintain lists of who was doing what where. They were finding it incredibly frustrating, because the minute you develop a community resource guide, immediately something changes.

“Because things change so rapidly, it’s difficult for a practice to do all the care coordination and connect people with all kinds of resources. What was important for them was to develop relationships with key social service agencies. In this instance, their local health department was really helpful because they also have the connection to some of the fuel assistance, nutrition assistance and other assistance programs that low-income people needed.

“Practices can run themselves ragged sometimes trying to be everything for everybody. Spend some time and find out who the key people or key organizations are in your community, develop that relationship with them and then you’re not necessarily taking over everything.”

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