Although health-care reform continues to be a topic of great debate in Murfreesboro and other communities around the nation, changes in the delivery of medical services that have come and are coming probably will affect nearly every household.
Receiving a lot of attention in the health-care industry now are “patient-centered medical homes” and “accountable care organizations.”
These new models for health care and delivery of medical services have some similarities.
Each is more patient-centered than the current model for delivery of medical services with the emphasis on the total patient rather than specific symptoms, each involves a team approach to delivery of services, and each is touted for improvement in quality of care and reduction in the cost of services.
Promotion of the PCMH model has been more grassroots than the development of ACOs since the health reform act or Affordable Care Act includes provisions for their creation. Participation of health care professionals and patients in ACOs, however, is voluntary.
Scheduled to come into existence in 2012, ACOs initially will address the needs of patients on Medicare, particularly those with chronic conditions.
Already the release of the proposed rules for ACOs has generated debate and controversy, and questions continue in regard to exactly which health-care providers can participate in ACOs.
Such questions, however, have not deterred St. Thomas Health, which includes Middle Tennessee Medical Center in Murfreesboro, from creating an ACO, MissionPoint Health Partners.
Are senior citizens in Murfreesboro aware of the role that ACOs may be playing in their future medical services through Medicare?
Linda Burt, director of the St. Clair Steet Senior Center in downtown Murfreesboro, is not sure, but the center will sponsor its annual Medicare Fair Sept. 29. “We have people who report on different things like that,” Burt said.
In regard to what a “patient-centered medical home” can offer, Murfreesboro residents have to look no farther than Family Practice Partners for a guide, since the local practice has been a pioneer in using the PCHC model, serving as a national demonstration center beginning in 2006.
While rhetoric about the need for health reform probably will continue for months, if not years, a lot more attention needs to go to what the PCMH model and ACOs actually can do to improve the quality of health care and lower health-care costs.