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Penn State Hershey takes the lead in implementing new care model

All 13 of Penn State Hershey Medical Group's adult primary care sites have received a designation recognizing their transition toward a new care model that promises to improve health and reduce costs of care. The practices have been awarded the highest level of patient-centered medical home (PCMH) certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

Patient-centered medical home is based on the chronic care model of care, which attempts to shift health care delivery from a reactive approach to a focus on long-term problems and preventative care. The result is comprehensive primary care coordinated and integrated across a health-care system by a physician-led team.

“The patient-centered medical home model reinforces our ability to provide patients with the highest quality health care, with all clinicians working together as a coordinated team,” said Harold L. Paz, chief executive officer, Penn State’s senior vice president for health affairs, and dean, Penn State College of Medicine. “As an academic health center, we are also integrating this approach into how we teach medical students, nursing students and other future health professionals, and at the same time, our researchers are examining the best ways to use this model in ways that enhance the quality, safety and efficiency of health care.”

The designation is the latest evidence of Penn State Hershey's continued commitment to implementing the PCMH approach across the clinical, educational and research components of its mission.

“We are excited about the recognition from the NCQA, which serves as the latest evidence of the growing emphasis on coordinated, patient-centered care at our Medical Group sites and of our academic commitment to the concept,” said William M. Bird, vice chair for clinical care in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.

Here are some other key recent developments related to the PCMH concept:

Penn State College of Medicine will lead an effort to develop a state-level infrastructure for the new national Primary Care Extension Service. The effort will utilize a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality — one of just four such grants awarded across the nation — to implement the PCMH approach in health systems across Pennsylvania. The infrastructure will follow a model similar to the cooperative extension network developed in the early 20th century to educate farmers about the latest farming methods. The next step will be to help other states successfully utilize the Primary Care Extension Service approach.

— Robert Gabbay, director of Penn State Hershey Diabetes Institute, oversaw a study that found the PCMH model helped diabetes patients reach goals known to reduce sickness and death rates. The researchers implemented the PCMH approach for diabetes patients in 25 practices in southeast Pennsylvania as part of a statewide initiative that has now expanded to more than 150 practices.

— Penn State Hershey recently received a grant from the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians to evaluate and identify best practices that help residency programs train the next generation of primary care physicians on the PCMH concept.

Funding provided under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has helped incorporate the PCMH concept into the curriculum for medical students at Penn State College of Medicine. In addition to learning about the concept, students have opportunities to see first-hand how it's applied in a clinical setting.

To learn more about patient-centered medical home, check out the following:

— A “Sound Health” podcast with Bird and Gabbay, who outline the PCMH concept and how it's being implemented at Penn State Hershey:

— This video, in which Gabbay discusses what a patient-centered medical home is and what it means for the future of health care:

— This video, in which Gabbay explains how Penn State is shaping the patient-centered medical home model through patient care, education and research:

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