Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH)

A patient centered medical home is an approach to providing comprehensive primary care for people of all ages and conditions. It is a way for a physician-led medical practice, chosen by the patient, to integrate health care services for that patient who confronts a complex and confusing health care system.

The concept of a "medical home" was introduced in 1967 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Since that date, its principles have been widely embraced by The American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians and many other health care organizations and advocacy groups. In fact, in March 2007, a total of 22 physician organizations adopted a set of joint principles which include these operational characteristics: accessible, continuous, comprehensive, family-centered, coordinated, compassionate and culturally sensitive care.

Key Components

  • The patient centered medical home (PCMH) is a model of health care delivery that is based on an ongoing personal relationship with a physician/provider. This personal patient/physician relationship provides continuous and comprehensive care.
  • A medical practice that operates as a PCHM consists of a personal physician leading a team of health care professionals who collectively take responsibility for the ongoing care of the patient.
  • A whole person orientation is a key component of PCHM. A personal physician/provider is responsible for providing for all the patient's health needs or taking responsibility for managing care with other qualified professionals. This includes care for all stages of life; acute care, chronic care, preventative services and end-of-life care.
  • Care is coordinated across all elements of the patient's community including the health care system (hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes, consultants and other components of the complex health care system), facilitated by registries, information technology, health information exchange and other means to assure that patients get the indicated care when and where they need and want it.
  • Quality and safety are hallmarks of the PCHM. Physician practices that adopt the PCHM model become advocates for their patient to support the attainment of the best health outcomes. The outcomes are defined by a care planning process driven by a compassionate on robust partnership between the patient, the patient provider, other physicians, health care providers and family members. The patient actively participates in decision-making and provides feedback to ensure expectations are being met.
  • Evidence-based medicine and clinical decision-support tools guide decision making. Providers in the practice accept accountability for continuous quality improvement through voluntary engagement in performance measurement. Information technology supports optimal patient care, performance measurement, patient education and enhanced communication.
  • This enhanced access to health care means the practice provides patients with options such as open scheduling, expanded hours and various arrangements for communication between patients, the providers, the practice team and office staff.