Medical homes reduce costs of caring for complex patients

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Dec. 17, 2012

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The patient-centered medical home model lowers the cost of care for patients with multiple chronic conditions but not for those who are healthier, says a study in the November issue of The American Journal of Managed Care.

Researchers at the HealthPartners Research Foundation in Minneapolis analyzed data on 58,391 people receiving primary care at a practice participating in the medical home model from 2005 to 2009. Health care costs were unchanged among patients taking fewer than two regular medications, which can indicate fewer health issues (link).

But medical expenses per patient were lowered by $446 in 2005 for those on at least seven medications and cut by $184 in 2009. Outpatient care costs for the medically needy group were reduced by $241 in 2005 and $54 in 2009.

“The PCMH may be useful and cost-effective for the medically complex,” the study authors wrote. “An alternative model may be preferable for others.”

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