Medical homes

Evidence Rating  
Evidence rating: Scientifically Supported

Strategies with this rating are most likely to make a difference. These strategies have been tested in many robust studies with consistently positive results.

Health Factors  
Decision Makers
Date last updated
Community in Action

Medical homes provide continuous, comprehensive, whole person primary care1, 2. In this model of care, primary care providers and their teams coordinate care across the health care system, working with patients to address all their preventive, acute, and chronic health care needs, and arranging care with other qualified health professionals as needed. Medical homes offer enhanced access, including expanded hours and easy communication options for patients. They also practice evidence-based medicine, measure performance, and strive to improve care quality2.

What could this strategy improve?

Expected Benefits

Our evidence rating is based on the likelihood of achieving these outcomes:

  • Improved quality of care

  • Increased access to care

  • Increased preventive care

  • Reduced emergency room visits

  • Reduced hospital utilization

Potential Benefits

Our evidence rating is not based on these outcomes, but these benefits may also be possible:

  • Increased continuity of care

  • Increased patient engagement

  • Increased practice of evidence-based medicine

  • Improved care for chronic conditions

  • Reduced hospital utilization

  • Increased patient satisfaction

What does the research say about effectiveness?

There is strong evidence that medical homes improve quality of health care and access to care3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and increase the use of preventive services compared to traditional care4, 5, 10, 11, 12. Medical homes reduce preventable emergency room visits3, 6, 9, 11, 13, 14 and hospitalizations3, 5, 6, 9.

Medical homes increase continuity of care6, use of evidence-based medicine8, and patient and family participation in care7, 8. Medical homes improve adherence to treatment3, increase general preventive screenings such as cholesterol and blood pressure checks9, increase screening for cervical cancer and breast cancer, and reduce specialist visits10.

Medical homes appear to increase patient satisfaction5, 6 and can reduce provider burnout9. In some circumstances, medical homes may allow patients to access care more quickly and easily than traditional care models8, 15, 16 and may reduce unmet medical needs17, 18, 19.

Effects appear strongest for children with special health care needs8 and individuals with chronic conditions such as diabetes or mental illness20. Medical homes improve chronic disease management9, including diabetes care3. Medical homes can also reduce emergency visits for asthmatic individuals13, 14, Latinos and Vietnamese with mental illness4, and children insured by Medicaid21. Healthy children with medical homes are more likely to receive preventive care and developmental screenings, experience a greater health-related quality of life, and are less likely to seek care at the emergency department than children who receive traditional care11.

Research on primary care transformation indicates that practices becoming medical homes should first build a relationship-centered workplace with shared leadership and time for group planning. Then, rather than incremental change or following top-down directives, practices should pursue group-directed, whole-system transformation22, 23. Practices should also help doctors develop the skills for team-based care and expect a change process up to three years long23. Survey results suggest that joining learning collaboratives24 and hiring care coordinators25 may help ease the transformation process.

Medical homes can yield cost savings over traditional care in some circumstances7, 8, but not in others9, 12. Most state medical home initiatives have been associated with increased quality and reduced costs26.

Medical homes have been shown to improve health disparities related to race, income, gender, and age4.

How could this strategy impact health disparities? This strategy is rated likely to decrease disparities.
Implementation Examples

As of 2018, 26 states have enacted changes to increase medical home access for Medicaid recipients27. The National Committee for Quality Assurance’s (NCQA’s) Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition Program is the most widely used medical home evaluation program in the nation; it has recognized over 12,000 practices with 60,000 clinicians for their commitment to a patient-centered approach to care and quality improvement1. The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) collaborated with NCQA to develop the New York State customized PCMH Recognition Program in support of New York’s dedication to the medical home model28. The Veterans Health Administration has utilized a patient-centered medical home model known as Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT) since 201029, 30.

Implementation Resources

PCPCC-PCMH map - Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC). Primary care innovations and patient-centered medical home (PCMH) map by state.

AHRQ-PCMH Resources - Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Patient centered medical home (PCMH) resource center.

NCMHI - National Center for Medical Home Implementation.

NCQA-PCMH eligibility - National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). PCMH eligibility.

CWF-MH - The Commonwealth Fund (CWF). Becoming a medical home: Implementation guides.

SNMHI - Safety Net Medical Home Initiative (SNMHI). Patient-centered medical home resources and tools.


* Journal subscription may be required for access.

1 NCQA-PCMH - National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition Program.

2 AHRQ-PCMH - Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Patient centered medical home (PCMH).

3 van den Berk-Clark 2017 - van den Berk-Clark C, Doucette E, Rottnek F, et al. Do patient-centered medical homes improve health behaviors, outcomes, and experiences of low-income patients? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Health Services Research. 2017:1-22.

4 Olayiwola 2017 - Olayiwola JN, Sheth S, Mleczko V, Choi AL, Sharma AE. The impact of the patient-centered medical home on health disparities in adults: A systematic review of the evidence. Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice. 2017;10(1):68-96.

5 Alexander 2012 - Alexander JA, Bae D. Does the patient-centred medical home work? A critical synthesis of research on patient-centred medical homes and patient-related outcomes. Health Services Management Research. 2012;25(2):51–9.

6 van Walraven 2010 - van Walraven C, Oake N, Jennings A, Forster AJ. The association between continuity of care and outcomes: A systematic and critical review. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. 2010;16(5):947-56.

7 Rosenthal 2008 - Rosenthal TC. The medical home: Growing evidence to support a new approach to primary care. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. 2008;21(5):427-40.

8 Homer 2008 - Homer CJ, Klatka K, Romm D, et al. A review of the evidence for the medical home for children with special health care needs. Pediatrics. 2008;122(4):e922-37.

9 Hoff 2013 - Hoff T, Weller W, DePuccio M. The patient-centered medical home: A review of recent research. Medical Care Research and Review. 2012;69(6):619–44.

10 Sinaiko 2017 - Sinaiko AD, Landrum MB, Meyers DJ, et al. Synthesis of research on patient-centered medical homes brings systematic differences into relief. Health Affairs. 2017;36(3):500-508.

11 Hadland 2014 - Hadland SE, Long WE. A systematic review of the medical home for children without special health care needs. Maternal and Child Health Journal. 2014;18(4):891-898.

12 Jackson 2013 - Jackson GL, Powers BJ, Chatterjee R, et al. The patient-centered medical home: A systematic review. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2013;158(3):169-178.

13 Chin 2009 - Chin MH, Alexander-Young M, Burnet DL. Health care quality-improvement approaches to reducing child health disparities. Pediatrics. 2009;124(Suppl 3):S224-36.

14 Diedhiou 2010 - Diedhiou A, Probst JC, Hardin JW, Martin AB, Xirasagar S. Relationship between presence of a reported medical home and emergency department use among children with asthma. Medical Care Research and Review. 2010;67(4):450-75.

15 Christensen 2013 - Christensen EW, Dorrance KA, Ramchandani S, et al. Impact of a patient-centered medical home on access, quality, and cost. Military Medicine. 2013;178(2):135–41.

16 Kern 2013 - Kern LM, Dhopeshwarkar R V, Edwards A, Kaushal R. Patient experience over time in patient-centered medical homes. American Journal of Managed Care. 2013;19(5):403–10.

17 Strickland 2011 - Strickland BB, Jones JR, Ghandour RM, Kogan MD, Newacheck PW. The medical home: Health care access and impact for children and youth in the United States. Pediatrics. 2011;127(4):604–11.

18 O’Malley 2012 - O’Malley AS. After-hours access to primary care practices linked with lower emergency department use and less unmet medical need. Health Affairs. 2013;32(1):175–83.

19 Bennedict 2008 - Benedict RE. Quality medical homes: Meeting children’s needs for therapeutic and supportive services. Pediatrics. 2008;121(1):e127-34.

20 Amiel 2011 - Amiel JM, Pincus HA. The medical home model: New opportunities for psychiatric services in the United States. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 2011;24(6):562-8.

21 Christensen 2015 - Christensen AL, Zickafoose JS, Natzke B, McMorrow S, Ireys HT. Associations between practice-reported medical homeness and health care utilization among publicly insured children. Academic Pediatrics. 2015;15(3):267-274.

22 Crabtree 2011 - Crabtree BF, Nutting PA, Miller WL, et al. Primary care practice transformation is hard work: Insights from a 15-year developmental program of research. Medical Care. 2011;49(12 Suppl 1):S28-35.

23 Nutting 2009 - Nutting PA, Miller WL, Crabtree BF, et al. Initial lessons from the First National Demonstration Project on practice transformation to a patient-centered medical home. Annals of Family Medicine. 2009;7(3):254-60.

24 McMullen 2013 - Mcmullen CK, Schneider J, Firemark A, Davis J, Spofford M. Cultivating engaged leadership through a learning collaborative: Lessons from primary care renewal in Oregon safety net clinics. Annals of Family Medicine. 2013;11(Suppl 1):S34–40.

25 McAllister 2013 - McAllister JW, Cooley WC, Van Cleave J, Boudreau AA, Kuhlthau K. Medical home transformation in pediatric primary care - What drives change? Annals Of Family Medicine. 2013;11(S1):S90–8.

26 Takach 2011 - Takach M. Reinventing medicaid: State innovations to qualify and pay for patient-centered medical homes show promising results. Health Affairs. 2011;30(7):1325-34.

27 NASHP-Map - National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP). State delivery system and payment reform map.

28 NCQA-NYS PCHM - National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). New York State Patient-Centered Medical Home (NYS PCMH) Recognition Program.

29 Hebert 2014 - Hebert P, Liu C, Wong E, et al. Patient-centered medical home initiative produced modest economic results for Veterans Health Administration, 2010–12. Health Affairs. 2014;33(6):980-987.

30 US VA-PACT - U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (U.S. VA). Patient Aligned Care Team (PACT).