Patient Vs. Soldier-Centered Medical Home: Comparing Access, Continuity, and Communication in the U.S. Army.

Academic Article

Abstract

  • INTRODUCTION: Over the last 40 years, patient-centered medical home (PCMH) has evolved as the leading primary care practice model, replacing traditional primary care models in the United States and internationally. The goal of PCMH is to improve chronic condition management. In the U.S. Army, the scope of the medical home, which encompasses various care delivery platforms, including PCMH and soldier-centered medical home (SCMH), extends beyond the management of chronic illnesses. These medical home platforms are designed to support the unique health care needs of the U.S. Army's most vital asset-the soldier. The PCMHs and SCMHs within the U.S. Army employ patient-centered care principles while incorporating nationally recognized structural attributes and care processes that work together in a complex adaptive system to improve organizational and patient outcomes. However, U.S. Army policies dictate differences in the structures of PCMHs and SCMHs. Researchers suggest that differences in medical home structures can impact how organizations operationalize care processes, leading to unwanted variance in organizational and patient outcomes. This study aimed to compare 3 care processes (access to care, primary care manager continuity, and patient-centered communication) between PCMHs and SCMHs. MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a retrospective, cross-sectional, and correlational study. We used a subset of data from the Military Data Repository collected between January 1, 2018, and December 31, 2018. The sample included 266 medical home teams providing care for active duty soldiers. Only active duty soldiers were included in the sample. We reviewed current U.S. Army Medical Department policies to describe the structures and operational functioning of PCMHs and SCMHs. General linear mixed regressions were used to evaluate the associations between medical home type and outcome measures. The U.S. Army Medical Department Center and School Institutional Review Board approved this study. RESULTS: There was no significant difference in access to 24-hour and future appointments or soldiers' perception of access between PCMHs and SCMHs. There was no significant difference in primary care manager continuity. There was a significant difference in medical home team continuity (P < .001), with SCMHs performing better. There was no significant difference in patient-centered communication scores. Our analysis showed that while the PCMH and SCMH models were designed to improve primary care manager continuity, access to care, and communication, medical home teams within the U.S. Army are not consistently meeting the Military Health System standard of care benchmarks for these care processes. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings comparing 3 critical medical home care processes suggest that structural differences may impact continuity but not access to care or communication. There is an opportunity to further explore and improve access to appointments within 24 hours, primary care manager and medical home team continuity, perception of access to care, and the quality of patient-centered communication among soldiers. Knowledge gained from this study is essential to soldier medical readiness.
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    Author List

  • Taylor-Clark TM; Hearld LR; Loan LA; Swiger PA; Li P; Patrician PA