Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate patient outcomes in the National Demonstration Project (NDP) of practices' transition to patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs).
Methods: In 2006, a total of 36 family practices were randomized to facilitated or self-directed intervention groups. Progress toward the PCMH was measured by independent assessments of how many of 39 predominantly technological NDP model components the practices adopted. We evaluated 2 types of patient outcomes with repeated cross-sectional surveys and medical record audits at baseline, 9 months, and 26 months: patient-rated outcomes and condition-specific quality of care outcomes. Patient-rated outcomes included core primary care attributes, patient empowerment, general health status, and satisfaction with the service relationship. Condition-specific outcomes were measures of the quality of care from the Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance (ACQA) Starter Set and measures of delivery of clinical preventive services and chronic disease care.
Results: Practices adopted substantial numbers of NDP components over 26 months. Facilitated practices adopted more new components on average than self-directed practices (10.7 components vs 7.7 components, P=.005). ACQA scores improved over time in both groups (by 8.3% in the facilitated group and by 9.1% in the self-directed group, P <.0001) as did chronic care scores (by 5.2% in the facilitated group and by 5.0% in the self-directed group, P=.002), with no significant differences between groups. There were no improvements in patient-rated outcomes. Adoption of PCMH components was associated with improved access (standardized beta [Sbeta]=0.32, P = .04) and better prevention scores (Sbeta=0.42, P=.001), ACQA scores (Sbeta=0.45, P = .007), and chronic care scores (Sbeta=0.25, P =.08).
Conclusions: After slightly more than 2 years, implementation of PCMH components, whether by facilitation or practice self-direction, was associated with small improvements in condition-specific quality of care but not patient experience. PCMH models that call for practice change without altering the broader delivery system may not achieve their intended results, at least in the short term.