The Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH)

What is the PCMH?

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is a model of care that aims to transform the delivery of comprehensive primary care to children, adolescents, and adults.

Through the medical home model, practices seek to improve the quality, effectiveness, and efficiency of the care they deliver while responding to each patient’s unique needs and preferences. No matter where you fall on the spectrum of PCMH transformation—managing current projects, enhancing basic concepts, or advancing to more complex initiatives—the adoption of PCMH concepts can benefit your practice, your patients, and your bottom line.

Defining the PCMH

The 2007 Joint Principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home(3 page PDF)—as developed by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Osteopathic Association—are as follows:

  • Physician-led practice: Patients have access to a personal physician who leads the care team within a medical practice.
  • Whole-person orientation: The care team provides comprehensive care, including acute care, chronic care, preventive services, and end-of-life care, at all stages of life.
  • Integrated and coordinated care: Practices take steps to ensure that patients receive the care and services they need from the medical neighborhood, in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.
  • Focus on quality and safety: Practices use the quality improvement process and evidence-based medicine to continually improve patient outcomes.
  • Access: Practices commit to enhancing patients’ access to care.

PCMH Recognition and Accreditation

A number of nationwide PCMH recognition and accreditation programs exist. Although some practices are required to complete a recognition program (e.g., for participation in an accountable care organization or a PCMH incentive program), PCMH recognition for many practices is voluntary. You do not have to participate in a recognition program in order to begin or complete PCMH transformation.

Learn more about PCMH recognition programs.

Explore the AAFP’s interactive web portal for resources dedicated to improving physician well-being.

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