New Study Highlights Effectiveness of Medical Home for Seniors
Much has been written about the benefits of having a "medical home"—the term used to describe a patient-centered, team-based, coordinated approach to primary care. A recent two-year pilot study—conducted by the Los Angeles Jewish Home through its Brandman Research Institute (BRI)—has shed important new light on the effectiveness of the medical home model for seniors, particularly independent and assisted living residents.
In 2016, the Home received a $250,000 two-year grant from the Jewish Foundation to evaluate if medical home principles could improve outcomes for independent and assisted living residents by reducing falls, emergency department (ED) visits, and hospitalizations.
Together with the BRI, the Home created a program specifically to evaluate the outcomes of the grant. This evolved into the Concierge Medical Model, which assigned a point person to each senior in the study to help facilitate their medical and non-medical requests.
"We know medical home care can reduce costs while improving quality and efficiency," says Noah Marco, MD, BRI's executive director. "With the study, our goal was to take it to the next level, developing a program that clearly resonated with residents and those caring for them and producing a model that can be replicated across the county.
The results were striking. Study participants demonstrated better health outcomes at a lower rate of cost, including a 10 percent higher rate remaining in their current level of care; a 24 percent reduction in hospitalizations, and a 75 percent reduction in clinic visits.
Seniors in the study (an initial cohort of 50, ranging in age from 68 to 103) were able to drop into their assigned contact's office without an appointment. They could ask questions and get answers to their concerns, fostering a supportive, informal environment for patient education. Eliminating the need for seniors to navigate the healthcare system, and ensuring that their concerns were addressed immediately, alleviated anxiety and stress—and, the study showed, was a critical factor in reducing office visits and healthcare costs.
Across the board, study participants had positive reviews of their involvement in the program and would highly recommend it to others. "It's incredibly gratifying to know that, through this program, we improved seniors' health and increased their happiness," Dr. Marco says. "At the end of the day, that's what the Jewish Home is all about."