American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Patient-Centered Medical Home

The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) is an approach to providing comprehensive primary care for children, youth, and adults. The PCMH is a health care setting that facilitates partnerships between individual patients and their personal physicians, and when appropriate, the patient’s family.

The AOA, in collaboration with other health care organizations, developed the following joint principles to describe the characteristics of the PCMH.


Personal physician – each patient has an ongoing relationship with a personal physician trained to provide first contact and continuous, comprehensive care.

Physician-directed medical practice – the personal physician leads a team of individuals at the practice level who collectively take responsibility for the ongoing care of patients.

Whole person orientation – the personal physician is responsible for providing for all the patient’s health care needs or taking responsibility for appropriately arranging care with other qualified professionals. This includes care for all stages of life, acute care, chronic care, preventive services, and end of life care.

Coordinated care – all aspects of care are integrated across the complex health care system (e.g., subspecialty care, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes) and the patient’s community (e.g., family, public and private community-based services). Care is facilitated by registries, information technology, health information exchange, and other means to assure that patients get the indicated care when and where they need and want it in a culturally and linguistically appropriate manner.


Quality and safety are hallmarks of the medical home:

  • Practices advocate for their patients to support the attainment of optimal, patient-centered outcomes that are defined by a care-planning process driven by a compassionate, robust partnership between physicians, patients, and the patient’s family.

  • Evidence-based medicine and clinical decision-support tools guide decision making.

  • Physicians in the practice accept accountability for continuous quality improvement through voluntary engagement in performance measurement and improvement.

  • Patients actively participate in decision making, and feedback is sought to ensure patients’ expectations are being met.

  • Information technology is utilized appropriately to support optimal patient care, performance measurement, patient education, and enhanced communication.

  • Practices go through a voluntary recognition process by an appropriate non-governmental entity to demonstrate that they have the capabilities to provide patient-centered services consistent with the medical home model.

  • Patients and families participate in quality improvement activities at the practice level.

Enhanced access to care is available through systems such as open scheduling, expanded hours, and new options for communication between patients, their personal physician, and practice staff.

Payment appropriately recognizes the added value provided to patients who have a patient-centered medical home. The payment structure should be based on the following framework:

  • It should reflect the value of physician and non-physician staff patient-centered care management work that falls outside of the face-to-face visit.

  • It should pay for services associated with coordination of care both within a given practice and between consultants, ancillary providers, and community resources.

  • It should support adoption and use of health information technology for quality improvement.

  • It should support provision of enhanced communication access such as secure e-mail and telephone consultation.

  • It should recognize the value of physician work associated with remote monitoring of clinical data using technology.

  • It should allow for separate fee-for-service payments for face-to-face visits. (Payments for care management services that fall outside of the face-to-face visit, as described above, should not result in a reduction in the payments for face-to-face visits.)

  • It should recognize case mix differences in the patient population being treated within the practice.

  • It should allow physicians to share in savings from reduced hospitalizations associated with physician-guided care management in the office setting.

  • It should allow for additional payments for achieving measurable and continuous quality improvements.


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