Through pilot program, small practices become “medical homes”

A pilot program has helped 13 small Connecticut primary care practices achieve recognition as patient-centered medical homes from the National Committee on Quality Assurance, a certifying organization.

The medical home model has become increasingly popular in medicine, and supporters believe it could improve patient care while controlling costs. Practices that use the model take a more active role in their patients’ health, coordinating care received from other health care providers, following up with patients who need more work managing their health and expanding patients’ access to care by offering extended hours or telephone or email consultations.

Making the changes necessary to become a medical home, and completing the application for medical home recognition, can be challenging for small medical practices, which employ the majority of Connecticut physicians. The pilot program — sponsored by the Connecticut State Medical Society, the medical society’s independent practice association, the health care consulting group Qualidigm and The Physicians Foundation — was aimed at providing training and assistance to small practices.

Nineteen practices completed the program, and 10 have been recognized as achieving the highest-level medical home recognition. Three other practices were also recognized as medical homes at the lowest of three recognition levels offered by the National Committee on Quality Assurance. Six other practices have applications pending. The training included 105 physicians and their clinical and administrative staff.

“This pilot shows that with the right support and training, small physician practices with limited administrative staff can reach medical home status,” Dr. Michael M. Krinsky, the medical society’s president, said in a statement. “We hope that this training can be made available to more physicians in Connecticut and in other states who can benefit from this quality training program.”

The program was free to the practices, which received training through webinars, conference calls and written curriculum.

The following practices received recognition as medical homes at the highest level:

Berlin Pediatric Associates

Charter Oak Walk-In Medical Center, East Lyme

East Granby Family Practice

Hartford Medical Group

MidState Medical Group — Women’s Primary Care Specialists

New Milford Medical Group

Quinnipiac Internal Medicine, Hamden

Town and Country Pediatrics and Family Medicine, Watertown

West Side Medical Center, Norwich

Drs. Thompson, Cooper, Goldberg & Donka, Niantic

The medical society and other sponsors are seeking additional funds to make the training available to more practices in the state.