Objectives: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a medical home for children with special health care needs (CSHCN). In the Pediatric Alliance for Coordinated Care (PACC), 6 pediatric practices introduced interventions to operationalize the medical home for CSHCN. The intervention consisted of a designated pediatric nurse practitioner acting as case manager, a local parent consultant for each practice, the development of an individualized health plan for each patient, and continuing medical education for health care professionals. The objectives of this study were 1) to characterize CSHCN in the PACC, 2) to assess parental satisfaction with the PACC intervention, 3) to assess the impact on hospitalizations and emergency department episodes, and 4) to assess the impact on parental workdays lost and children's school days lost for CSHCN before and during the PACC intervention.
Methods: A total of 150 CSHCN in 6 pediatric practices in the Boston, Massachusetts, area were studied. Participants were recruited by their pediatricians on the basis of medical/developmental complexity. Physicians completed enrollment information about each child's diagnosis and severity of condition. Families completed surveys at baseline and follow-up (at 2 years), assessing their experience with health care for their children.
Results: A total of 60% of the children had >5 conditions, 41% were dependent on medical technology, and 47% were rated by their physician as having a "severe" condition. A total of 117 (78%) families provided data after the intervention. The PACC made care delivery easier, including having the same nurse to talk to (68%), getting letters of medical necessity (67%), getting resources (60%), getting telephone calls returned (61%), getting early medical care when the child is sick (61%), communicating with the child's doctor (61%), getting referrals to specialists (61%), getting prescriptions filled (56%), getting appointments (61%), setting goals for the child (52%), understanding the child's medical condition (56%), and relationship with the child's doctor (58%). Families of children who were rated "severe" were most likely to find these aspects of care "much easier" with the help of the pediatric nurse practitioner. Satisfaction with primary care delivery was high at baseline and remained high throughout the study. There was a statistically significant decrease in parents missing >20 days of work (26% at baseline; 14.1% after PACC) and in hospitalizations (58% at baseline; 43.2% after PACC). The approximate cost per child per year of the intervention was 400 dollars.
Conclusions: The PACC medical home intervention increases parent satisfaction with pediatric primary care. Those whose needs are most severe seem to benefit most from the intervention. There are some indications of improved health as well as decreased burden of disease with the intervention in place. The PACC model allows a practice to meet many of the goals of serving as a medical home with a relatively small financial investment.