Undergoing transformation to the patient centered medical home in safety net health centers: perspectives from the front lines

Ethn Dis. 2013 Summer;23(3):356-62.


Objectives: Safety net health centers (SNHCs), which include federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) provide primary care for underserved, minority and low income patients. SNHCs across the country are in the process of adopting the patient centered medical home (PCMH) model, based on promising early implementation data from demonstration projects. However, previous demonstration projects have not focused on the safety net and we know little about PCMH transformation in SNHCs.

Design: This qualitative study characterizes early PCMH adoption experiences at SNHCs.

Setting and participants: We interviewed 98 staff (administrators, providers, and clinical staff) at 20 of 65 SNHCs, from five states, who were participating in the first of a five-year PCMH collaborative, the Safety Net Medical Home Initiative.

Main measures: We conducted 30-45 minute, semi-structured telephone interviews. Interview questions addressed benefits anticipated, obstacles encountered, and lessons learned in transition to PCMH.

Results: Anticipated benefits for participating in the PCMH included improved staff satisfaction and patient care and outcomes. Obstacles included staff resistance and lack of financial support for PCMH functions. Lessons learned included involving a range of staff, anticipating resistance, and using data as frequent feedback.

Conclusions: SNHCs encounter unique challenges to PCMH implementation, including staff turnover and providing care for patients with complex needs. Staff resistance and turnover may be ameliorated through improved health care delivery strategies associated with the PCMH. Creating predictable and continuous funding streams may be more fundamental challenges to PCMH transformation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Community Health Centers / organization & administration*
  • Health Services Accessibility / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Models, Organizational
  • Patient-Centered Care / economics
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Personnel Turnover
  • Primary Health Care / economics
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Quality Improvement
  • United States