Implications of Reassigning Patients for the Medical Home: A Case Study

Using the NO TEARS tool for medication review
August 7, 2019
Safety in numbers: Physicians joining forces to seal the cracks during transitions (Journal of Hospital Medicine, Volume 4, Issue 6, pages 329–330, July/August 2009)
August 7, 2019

Implications of Reassigning Patients for the Medical Home: A Case Study

PURPOSE Improving patient-doctor continuity is one goal of the medical home, but achieving this goal may require physicians to reduce panel size. This article examines the impact on patient experience and utilization of Group Health Cooperative’s process of reassigning patients to new physicians as part of their medical home demonstration project. METHODS This work represents a subanalysis of the Group Health medical home pilot evaluation. Study participants include 8,005 adults who received primary care in 2006 and 2007 at an urban practice owned and operated by a not-for-profit integrated delivery system. Approximately one-quarter of patients were selected to be reassigned to a new physician. Primary care, emergency department, secure messaging, and telephone utilization were captured through automated sources. Patients’ experience was measured before and after implementation of the medical home for a subset of 1,098 patients. RESULTS Patients who were retained by their existing physicians were older, sicker, and had longer preexisting patient-doctor relationships. After reassignment, reassigned patients were less likely to use primary care services but equally likely to use the emergency department. They were no less satisfied with their care experience. CONCLUSIONS Informational and managerial continuity may mitigate deleterious effects of reassignment, but more must be done to actively bind reassigned patients to the medical home to improve relational continuity with younger, healthier patients. Key Words: Patient-centered medical home, primary health care, continuity of patient care, physician-patient relations, patient-centered care

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