Joint Commission offers medical homes seal of approval

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Coming soon, patient-centered medical home models won’t just be a good idea — some of them will have received the official stamp of approval from the Joint Commission.

Until recently, tests of the medical home model have been scattered across the healthcare spectrum without a single authority or guiding hand to establish order.

For example, CMS already has three medical home demonstrations under development, but hasn’t issued rules governing their organization or practices.

In other instances, private organizations have gotten involved. For example, a subsidiary of the American Academy of Family Physicians recently ran a medical home project involving 35 small and medium-sized practices, and more than one private insurer has done experiments in this area.

Also, some practices have adopted the standards established in 2008 by the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

All told, it’s been hard for physicians to predict what a “medical home” would look like after years of development and debate among various stakeholders in the healthcare business.  That, of course, has kept many primary care practices from jumping in.

Now, given the group’s stature in the medical community, Joint Commission accreditation should mark a turning point in the emergence of the medical home.  By mid-2011, the ball should be rolling.

Final standards for meeting Joint Commission standards will be released in March of next year. Beginning in July 2011, the Commission will begin accrediting patient-centered home models for medical practices, a process which will include on-site surveys.

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