The start of a medical home boom?

Two large medical groups have become officially recognized patient-centered medical homes, significantly increasing the number of Connecticut health care providers with the designation.

The patient-centered medical home concept is becoming increasingly popular in health care. It emphasizes care coordination, with health care providers taking responsibility for all of their patients’ health care needs, including arranging appointments with specialists and following up on tests done at other facilities.

There is no single definition of a medical home, but the National Committee for Quality Assurance, or NCQA, provides an official designation for practices that meet certain standards, including being accessible to patients outside office hours, using data to manage patients and tracking referrals and follow-ups.

Two months ago, only four practices, with a small number of providers, had earned the NCQA patient-centered medical home recognition. As of Friday, 113 practices and providers had earned the designation. They represent just a handful of separate practices, but Community Health Center Inc., one of the newest to be recognized, has dozens of providers at 12 sites across the state. It treats many patients who are uninsured or covered by Medicaid, and provides medical, dental and behavioral health care.

Another recently designated practice, the Family Medicine Group, which is owned by Middlesex Hospital, has 42 clinicians at sites in East Hampton, Middletown and Portland. The practice spent four years making changes to become a medical home.

“The whole idea behind the patient-centered medical home is a single place where a patient can go, where they can receive their care in a coordinated fashion and receive the right care,” said Dr. Alan Douglass, director of the family medicine residency program at Middlesex Hospital.

In some states, Douglass said, insurers provide higher reimbursements for practices that are medical homes, and he said he expects that to occur in Connecticut soon.

The Malloy administration is aiming to promote the use of NCQA-recognized patient-centered medical homes in the Medicaid program.