Medical Home Features of VHA Primary Care Clinics and Avoidable Hospitalizations

J Gen Intern Med. 2013 Sep;28(9):1188-94. doi: 10.1007/s11606-013-2405-5. Epub 2013 Mar 26.


Background: As the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) reorganizes providers into the patient-centered medical home, questions remain whether this model of care can demonstrate improved patient outcomes and cost savings.

Objective: We measured adoption of medical home features by VHA primary care clinics prior to widespread implementation of the patient-centered medical home and examined if they were associated with lower risk and costs of potentially avoidable hospitalizations.

Design: Secondary patient data was linked to clinic administrative and survey data. Patient and clinic factors in the baseline year (FY2009) were used to predict patient outcomes in the follow-up year.

Participants: 2,853,030 patients from 814 VHA primary care clinics

Main measures: Patient outcomes were measured by hospitalizations for an ambulatory care sensitive condition (ACSC) and their costs and identified through diagnosis and procedure codes from inpatient records. Clinic adoption of medical home features was obtained from the American College of Physicians Medical Home Builder®.

Key results: The overall mean home builder score in the study clinics was 88 (SD = 13) or 69%. In adjusted analyses an increase of 10 points in the medical home adoption score in a clinic decreased the odds of an ACSC hospitalization for patients by 3% (P = 0.032). By component, higher access and scheduling (P = 0.004) and care coordination and transitions (P = 0.020) component scores were related to lower risk of an ACSC hospitalization, and higher population management was related to higher risk (P = 0.023). Total medical home features was not related to ACSC hospitalization costs among patients with at least one (P = 0.074).

Conclusion: Greater adoption of medical home features by VHA primary care clinics was found to be significantly associated with lower risk of avoidable hospitalizations with access and scheduling and care coordination/transitions in care as key factors.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cost Savings / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Reform
  • Health Services Accessibility / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Research / methods
  • Hospitalization / economics
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient-Centered Care / economics
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / economics
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • United States
  • Veterans Health*