Study Suggests 'Medical Homes' Key to Promoting Health Equity

By Bindman, Alyssa | The Nation's Health, September 2007 | Go to article overview

Study Suggests 'Medical Homes' Key to Promoting Health Equity


Bindman, Alyssa, The Nation's Health


PROVIDING minority patients with health insurance and a "medical home" could help eliminate racial and ethnic health care disparities, according to a new report from the Commonwealth Fund.

The report, based on results of a 2006 Commonwealth Fund health care quality survey of more than 2,830 adults across the United States, showed that linking minority patients with a medical home--a place where a patient could receive timely, well-organized care and enhanced access to providers--helped patients to better manage chronic conditions and obtain preventive care services.

Patients who noted a regular provider or place of care, ease of contacting a provider by phone, ease of getting advice or medical care when needed on weekends or evenings and well-organized and efficient office visits were said to have a medical home. Having insurance strongly predicted whether patients had a medical home. In turn, community health centers and public clinics, which often serve low-income or uninsured adults, were less likely than private doctor's offices to fit the medical home criteria.

Hispanic and black adults with a medical home experienced no disparities in receiving preventive care reminders, the report found. Such reminders significantly improve routine screening for conditions such as heart disease and cancer, the fund reported.

Adults with a medical home were also better prepared to manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension. While 65 percent of patients without a regular medical home reported that their doctor or doctor's office did not give them a plan to manage their care at home, the rate dropped to 23 percent of adults who did have a regular source of care.

The Commonwealth Fund report concluded that health insurance and access to a medical home are equally important to eliminating health care disparities. To expand access to medical homes across the country, report authors recommended providing stable health insurance for all, publicly reporting which providers meet the standards of a medical home and recognizing and rewarding high-performing medical homes.

Thomas A. LaVeist, PhD, director of the Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said that an incentive structure is needed in order for providers to move toward such a model across the United States. …

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Study Suggests 'Medical Homes' Key to Promoting Health Equity
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