Impact of the medical home model on the quality of primary care: the Belgian experience

Med Care. 2015 May;53(5):396-400. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000347.


Background: The Belgium medical home (MH) model, which has been garnering support of late, resembles its US counterpart in that it aims at improving the quality of health care while containing costs.

Objectives: To compare the quality of care offered by MHs with that offered by traditional individual practices (IPs) in Belgium in terms of the extent of their adherence to clinical practice guidelines in antibiotherapy, cervical-cancer screening, influenza vaccination, and the management of diabetes.

Research design: This is a retrospective study using public insurance claims data. Data consisted of a random sample of patients using the services of MHs and IPs who were previously matched according to sex, age category, location, disability, and socioeconomic status. We applied the McNemar test, the t test, or the Wilcoxon test, depending on the type of variable being compared.

Subjects: The final sample comprised 43,678 patients in the year 2004.

Measures: On the basis of a review of the literature, we selected 4 themes, corresponding to 25 indicators: antibiotherapy, cervical-cancer screening, influenza vaccination, and the management of diabetes.

Results: MHs were more likely than IPs to adhere to evidence-based clinical practice guidelines. They prescribed less and more appropriate antibiotherapy, provided wider influenza-vaccination coverage for target groups, and provided a better follow-up for diabetics than did IPs. In regard to cervical-cancer screening, no significant differences were found.

Conclusions: MHs, as they combine a greater adherence to guidelines and savings in secondary care, are a cost-effective alternative to traditional IPs and therefore should be encouraged.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / administration & dosage
  • Belgium
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Diabetes Mellitus / diagnosis
  • Diabetes Mellitus / therapy
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Guideline Adherence / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage
  • Insurance Claim Review
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient-Centered Care / organization & administration*
  • Patient-Centered Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Primary Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Influenza Vaccines