Medical Homes Should Match Patients’ Preferences and Needs, Say New NCQA Standards

Monday, January 31st, 2011
This post was written by Patricia Donovan

In case there was any doubt about the ‘patient-centered’ part, new NCQA guidelines for patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) direct practices to organize care according to patients’ preferences and needs.

That goes for teens, too. The 2011 standards provide direction for primary care providers in a sorely needed area — that of adolescent and teen care. To support patient-centered care for children, PCMH 2011 standards include parental decision-making, teen privacy and guardianship. Standards also cover communication between medical facilities about newborns’ lab results and guidelines for planning the transition from pediatric to adult care.

According to the NCQA, the new 2011 standards debut the next generation of the NCQA recognition program that designates high-quality primary care practices as patient-centered medical homes.

What’s New for 2011:

Standards emphasize access to care during and after office hours, and managing care in collaboration with patients and families. Other aspects of patient-centeredness include providing services in patients’ preferred languages, helping patients with self-care and facilitating patient access to community resources.

PCMH 2011’s emphasis on patient feedback supports what is widely known as the “triple aim” (improving quality, containing costs and enhancing patient experience). NCQA is collaborating with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to develop a medical home version of the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) Clinician & Group Survey, a widely used evaluation of patient experience. NCQA expects to release CAHPS for medical homes in the second half of 2011.

Starting in January 2012, practices may receive additional NCQA Distinction by voluntarily reporting patient experience data.

Support for health information technology: Federal “meaningful use” language is embedded in PCMH 2011 evaluation standards, reinforcing incentives for practices to use health IT to improve quality.

The standards’ alignment with meaningful use creates a virtuous cycle: practices that meet PCMH 2011 requirements will be well prepared to qualify for meaningful use, and vice versa.

Download PCMH 2011 standards free of charge.

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