Introduction: The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is a team-based model of care that seeks to improve quality of care and control costs. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) directs Oklahoma's Medicaid program and contracts with 861 medical home practices across the state in one of three tiers of operational capacity: Tier 1 (Basic), Tier 2 (Advanced) and Tier 3 (Optimal). Only 13.5% (n = 116) homes are at the optimal level; the majority (59%, n = 508) at the basic level. In this study, we sought to determine the barriers that prevented Tier 1 homes from advancing to Tier 3 level and the incentives that would motivate providers to advance from Tier 1 to 3. Our hypotheses were that Tier 1 medical homes were located in smaller practices with limited resources and the providers are not convinced that the expense of advancing from Tier 1 status to Tier 3 status was worth the added value.
Methods: We analyzed OHCA records to compare the 508 Tier 1 (entry-level) with 116 Tier 3 (optimal) medical homes for demographic differences with regards to location: urban or rural, duration as medical home, percentage of contracts that were group contracts, number of providers per group contract, panel age range, panel size, and member-provider ratio. We surveyed all 508 Tier 1 homes with a mail-in survey, and with focused follow up visits to identify the barriers to, and incentives for, upgrading from Tier 1 to Tier 2 or 3.
Results: We found that Tier 1 homes were more likely to be in rural areas, run by solo practitioners, serve exclusively adult panels, have smaller panel sizes, and have higher member-to-provider ratios in comparison with Tier 3 homes. Our survey had a 35% response rate. Results showed that the most difficult changes for Tier 1 homes to implement were providing 4 hours of after-hours care and a dedicated program for mental illness and substance abuse. The results also showed that the most compelling incentives for encouraging Tier 1 homes to upgrade their tier status were less"red tape"with prior authorizations, higher pay, and help with panel member follow-up.
Discussion: Multiple interventions may help medical homes in Oklahoma advance from the basic to the optimal level such as sharing of resources among nearby practices, expansion of OHCA online resources to help with preauthorizations and patient follow up, and the generation and transmission of data on the benefits of medical homes.