Patient-centered Medical Homes and Access to Services for New Primary Care Patients

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Background:Recent efforts to revitalize primary care have centered on the patient-centered medical home (PCMH). Although enhanced access is an integral component of the PCMH model, the effect of PCMHs on access to primary care services is understudied.Objective:To determine whether PCMH practices are associated with better access to new appointments for nonelderly adults by direct measurement.Research Design:We estimated the relationship between practice PCMH status and access to care in multivariate regression models, adjusting for a robust set of patient, practice, and geographic characteristics; using data on 11,347 simulated patient calls to 7266 primary care practices across 10 US states merged with data on PCMH practices.Participants:Trained field staff posing as patients (age younger than 65 y) seeking a new primary care appointment with varying insurance status (private, Medicaid, or self-pay).Measures:Our primary predictor was practice PCMH status and our primary outcome was the ability of simulated patients to schedule a new appointment. Secondary outcomes included the number of days to that appointment; availability of after-hour appointments; and an appointment with an ongoing primary care provider.Results:Of the 7266 practices contacted for an appointment, 397 (5.5%) were National Committee for Quality Assurance-recognized PCMHs. In adjusted analyses, callers to PCMH practices compared with non-PCMH practices were more likely to schedule a new appointment (adjusted odds ratio=1.26 (95% CI, 1.01–1.58); P=0.04] and be offered after-hour appointments [adjusted odds ratio=1.36 (95% CI, 1.04–1.75); P=0.02].Discussion:PCMH practices maybe associated with better access to new primary care appointments for nonelderly adults, those most likely to gain insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

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