Pennsylvania Medical Homes Pilot shows promise, faces challenges

A preliminary examination of data from a Pennsylvania experiment testing patient-centered medical homes shows potential benefits as well as challenges of the model.

An article in the Wall Street Journal reports that Pennsylvania’s Chronic Care Initiative, which involves more than one-million patients, 800 doctors and 16 insurers, found that the percent of patients with high blood-sugar levels fell from 29% to 24% after nine months in the program.  The study also found that the percent of patients with blood pressure in the normal range has risen from 55% to 67%.

The program does face challenges.  Insurers are providing $30 million over three years in extra payment to doctors who are involved, and the state is contributing $3.4 million to run the program. To be successful, many medical homes require adding an electronic medical-records system and training or reorganizing staff, all of which cost substantial money.

(Sources: Competitive News Brief, Partners HealthCare, June 14, 2010;  Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com, June 10, 2010)