The AAFP's expertise in the areas of the patient-centered medical home, or PCMH, and electronic health records, or EHRs, has led to a partnership with a nationally known for-profit research firm to develop a PCMH information model and perform other related responsibilities.
Maryland-based Westat was selected by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, or AHRQ, as the prime contractor on one of the agency's health information technology, or health IT, technical assistance projects. Westat, in turn, designated the AAFP as its subcontractor to complete three specific tasks.
Specifically, the AAFP's Center for Health IT will
- create a PCMH information model;
- write technical specifications for EHRs and personal health records, or PHRs; and
- disseminate that information for use by a wider audience.
Steven Waldren, M.D., director of the AAFP's Center for Health IT, is the principal investigator on the project. He said a thorough literature review would precede development of the information model, which will map out the various interactions a patient has within the medical home.
"Patients receiving care in a medical home need to know how to schedule an online appointment and how to navigate a referral," Waldren explained. "Patients also need to know that their health information will be available to hospital staff in the case of a hospitalization. Patients need assurance that information about their inpatient care will flow back to their primary care physicians.
"This model will address all of those areas."
The Academy also will be responsible for ensuring the information model will work in a busy primary care practice. To accomplish this task, the Center for Health IT will assemble a workgroup made up of physicians and medical office staff members to review the information model, confirm what will work and toss out what is unrealistic.
The model then will be validated and further refined by five patient focus groups whose members will be chosen by the Academy and Mosaica Partners(www.mosaicapartners.com), a health information exchange consulting and advisory firm based in Seminole, Fla. According to Bob Brown, Mosaica's vice president of professional services, his firm also is serving as a subcontractor on the AHRQ project.
"Mosaica will assist the AAFP in developing the information model," said Brown. "The firm will use its expertise and the patient focus groups to ensure that the 'voice of the patient' is accurately captured and incorporated into the information model," he added.
The technical specifications that the AAFP creates for EHRs and PHRs will be used by health IT vendors as they design and produce their products.
During the final phase of the project, the Academy will help AHRQ disseminate the PCMH narrative report to patients and physicians and the health IT specifications to vendors.
"The stature of the AAFP and its success in disseminating vast amounts of information helped make us a key player in this process," said Waldren.
Waldren said the Academy's involvement in the research -- and its importance to family medicine -- should not be underestimated. "AHRQ is firming up the parameters of the patient-centered medical home and we want to be sure that the final definition is comprehensive from a family medicine perspective."
The one-year project began Aug. 2 and terminates on Aug 1, 2011. The maximum value of the Academy's portion of the contract is $155,733.