The Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH)


In a recent article released by IBM, an argument is made for a transition in the U.S. healthcare system to a team-based approach based on the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model. A strong case is made from a description of the model, its’ players, technology, and benefits. The critical change that must be established first, though, is the healthcare systems’ evolution to a data-driven system. The access to, higher quality and integration of data, across disparate silos of information, will provide the foundation for this change. Only then can the position of Dr. Douglas Henley, EVP and CEO of the American Academy of Family Physicians, “ A smarter health system is one based in comprehensive patient centered primary care which improves patient/physician communication, the coordination and integration of care, and the quality and cost efficiency of care” be achieved.

The quality and cost of care is what we hear the most about in news headlines. However, the success of each piece of Dr. Henley’s statement is based on the ability of a team of providers to access accurate and updated patient data across care settings and over time in order to proactively suggest lifestyle improvements and reactively diagnose and recommend appropriate treatments.  Fundamentally, each decision maker and operating entity needs a data strategy for how it will achieve the ambitious and often ambiguous goals it likes to claim.

I’ll recite a popular management mantra I’ve heard numerous times, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” The healthcare system is a data rich environment. Cleaning, manipulating, and leveraging  the huge volume of data available will become the critical success factors that will enable the linkage between education, research, the delivery of care and its outcomes, to benchmark and monitor the performance of the continuous improvements necessary to bring costs down and quality up.  

Players in the healthcare world will soon find out (if they haven’t already) a principle all those in the data world already know:

  • Good data, appropriately aggregated and manipulated, drives accurate information;
  • Accurate information is not a luxury that most decision makers have;
  • The executives, managers, physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, educators, pharmacists, researchers, and other stakeholders that do have access to accurate information are in a position to leverage and evolve this data and information from satisfying compliance and regulatory requirements to enabling an organizational knowledge-based asset.

Actionable data will drive the improvements that you see scattered across headlines and mentioned in political speeches in the past and no doubt, in the future.

Image courtesy of Texas Family Physician

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