Jun 23, 2017
Published in: Journal of General Internal Medicine [Epub May 2017]. doi:10.1007/s11606-017-4078-y
Posted on RAND.org on June 27, 2017
Patient-centered medical home (PCMH) models of primary care have the potential to expand access, improve population health, and lower costs. Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) were early adopters of PCMH models.
We measured PCMH capabilities in a diverse nationwide sample of FQHCs and assessed the relationship between PCMH capabilities and Medicare beneficiary outcomes.
Cross-sectional, propensity score-weighted, multivariable regression analysis.
A convenience sample of 804 FQHC sites that applied to a nationwide FQHC PCMH initiative and 231,163 Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries who received a plurality of their primary care services from these sites.
PCMH capabilities were self-reported using the National Committee for Quality Assurance's (NCQA's) 2011 application for PCMH recognition. Measures of utilization, continuity of care, quality, and Medicare expenditures were derived from Medicare claims covering a 1-year period ending October 2011.
Nearly 88% of sites were classified as having PCMH capabilities equivalent to NCQA Level 1, 2, or 3 PCMH recognition. These more advanced sites were associated with 228 additional FQHC visits per 1000 Medicare beneficiaries (95%CI: 176, 278), compared with less advanced sites; 0.02 points higher practice-level continuity of care (95% CI: 0.01, 0.03); and a greater likelihood of administering two of four recommended diabetes tests. However, more advanced sites were also associated with 181 additional visits to specialists per 1000 beneficiaries (95% CI: 124, 232) and 64 additional visits to emergency departments (95% CI: 35, 89)—but with no differences in inpatient utilization. More advanced sites had higher Part B expenditures ($111 per beneficiary (95% CI: $61, $158)) and total Medicare expenditures of $353 (95% CI: $65, $614)).
Implementation of PCMH models in FQHCs may be associated with improved primary care for Medicare beneficiaries. Expanded access to care, in combination with slower development of key PCMH capabilities, may explain higher Medicare expenditures and other types of utilization.