Does the Patient-centered Medical Home Model Change Staffing and Utilization in the Community Health Centers?

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Abstract

Background:

Few studies have looked under the hood of practice redesign to understand whether and, if so, how staffing changed with the adoption of patient-centered medical home (PCMH), and whether these staffing changes impacted utilization.

Objectives:

To examine the workforce transformation occurring in community health centers that have achieved PCMH status, and to assess the relationship of those changes to utilization, as measured by the number of visits.

Research Design, Subjects, Measures:

Using a difference-in-differences approach, we compared staffing and utilization outcomes in 450 community health centers that had adopted a PCMH model between 2007 and 2013 to a matched sample of 243 nonadopters located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Results:

We found that adopting a PCMH model was significantly associated with a growth in use of advanced practice staff (nurse practitioners and physician assistants) [0.53 full-time equivalent (FTE), 8.77%; P<0.001], other medical staff (medical assistants, nurse aides, and quality assurance staff) (1.23 FTE, 7.46%; P=0.001), mental health/substance abuse staff (0.73 FTE, 17.63%; P=0.005), and enabling service staff (case managers and health educators) (0.36 FTE, 6.14%; P=0.079), but not primary care physicians or nurses. We did not observe a significant increase in utilization, as measured in total number of visits per year. However, the visits marginally attributed to advanced practice staff (539 FTE, 0.89%; P=0.037) and mental health/substance abuse staff (353 FTE, 0.59%; P=0.051) significantly increased.

Conclusions:

Our findings suggest that the implementation of PCMH actively reengineers staff composition and this, in turn, results in changes in marginal utilization by each staff type.

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