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Ohio to Invest $1M in Patient-Centered Care

01.26.2012

Ohio will reportedly spend $1 million to help 50 of its primary care facilities transition into patient-centered medical homes, a new care model that encourages the family doctor to better coordinate with specialists and others to improve a patient’s health. These facilities will also serve as a training ground for medical and nursing students who want to learn how to deliver care in the new model.

Under the approach, primary care providers would coordinate patients’ care so that there aren’t duplicative tests or unnecessary hospital or emergency room visits, among other issues. Students also would be eligible for scholarships to a program that allows them to learn alongside staff at the state-selected 50 medical practices.

The $1 million will be spent to train roughly 1,000 to 1,500 doctors, nurses and others to better handle electronic medical records, create disease registries and more efficiently schedule patients so there’s enough time for emergency visits or follow-up appointments. The approach also encourages primary care providers to be more proactive in reaching out to patients in new ways — whether that’s through their email or cell phones.

Backers of the approach say it leads to better health outcomes and reduces costs to individuals and taxpayers.

A state law signed in 2010 helped pave the way for 44 sites, but state lawmakers at the time did not provide any money to support the practices’ transition to medical homes. This spend will fully funds training at those sites and opens up the door for six more medical homes, officials said.

Training could start at the facilities as soon as April. The training would occur over two years.

The state will give priority for the additional six sites to practices that serve underserved or minority populations. At least 15 percent of every practice that receives training dollars must support either uninsured or Medicaid-eligible Ohioans.

The $1 million investment comes from the governor’s newly created Office of Health Transformation, which had been allotted $8 million in federal bonus money through the state budget for office operations, consulting and other projects.

Patient-centered medical homes started in the late 1960s to help children with complex medical problems. The concept took off in primary care a few years ago, as insurers and doctors looked for alternatives to a system with soaring costs.