LITTLE ROCK, AR (News Release) - The Family Medical Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) recently became the first primary-care clinic in Arkansas to earn renewal as a Level III Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH), where health professionals work as a team to address a patient’s chronic conditions.
The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) again awarded Level III, the highest level PCMH recognition, to UAMS Family Medical Center after it earned a score of 99.25 of 100 in its reassessment.
“We learned that our submission and the resulting scores were the best ever seen by consultants who reviewed the application,” said Daniel Knight, chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, which manages the medical center. “The renewed recognition and the high score reflect real benefits for our patients. They now have better access to care and resources to help improve their care.”
A patient-centered medical home creates partnerships between individual patients, their physicians and the patient’s family. Care is facilitated by registries, information technology and health information exchange, so patients get the indicated care when and where they need and want it. A care manager serves works with patients to ensure they receive the care and other services they need.
In 2010, the Family Medical Center became the first primary care clinic in Arkansas to receive Level III recognition. Since establishing the PCMH, the UAMS Medical Center’s readmission rate among patients referred from the Family Medical Center has dropped from 22 percent to 15 percent.
Some of the key components of the PCMH long have been in place in the Family Medical Center. In 1998, the clinic was the first on campus to implement an electronic medical record system. Jamie Howard, M.D., also initiated clinical performance measurement and quality improvement measures there a decade ago, Knight said.
Knight also gave credit to Paula White, former Department of Family and Preventive Medicine administrator, for her work on the initial development of the Family Medical Center’s PCMH and the first NCQA recognition in 2010 and to Mary Prince, current administrator, for shepherding the reapplication through to such a successful conclusion.
In addition to improving patient outcomes, the medical-home model promises to cut costs by reducing the need for hospitalization or emergency room care. According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, seven medical home demonstration projects at primary care practices reported a 6 percent to 40 percent reduction in hospitalizations, a 7 percent to 29 percent decline in emergency room visits and a savings of $71-$640 per patient.
Nationally, about a quarter of the primary care practices have adopted the patient-centered medical home model.
Charles Smith, M.D., executive associate dean for Clinical Affairs, leads the Center for Primary Care that includes the Family Medical Center. Two other clinics in the CPC, Internal Medicine North and the Thomas and Lyon Longevity Clinic at the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, both have obtained PCMH recognition. Two others, Internal Medicine South and Internal Medicine West, are in the process of applying for it. UAMS Family Medical Center Fort Smith, at UAMS West in Fort Smith, recently achieved Level III recognition from NCQA.
The NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving health care. It has worked with leading national medical organizations like the American College of Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians to develop PCMH recognition standards.