Overcoming barricades to PCMH education necessary, albeit complex

Many parts go into assembling a whole, especially in healthcare and matters of the human body. Years of education go into making a doctor, and oftentimes, several doctors go into making a practice. And with the rise of acquisitions and new business models, several practices and practice aspects go into making up a unique system. So the expansion progresses.

The latest addition to healthcare’s Russian doll phenomenon — the patient-centered medical home (PCMH) — has been dubbed by many as the new face of primary care. But regarding its fillers and precursors, the PCMH has also been found lacking regarding educational support.

Daniel Spogen, MD, member of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) board of directors and chair of the department of family medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, said it best in his Feb. 18 blog on the matter: “We need a consistent method of teaching PCMH at all levels of education.”

To achieve such an aim, providers and organization leaders of all sorts must band together and support the development of grant initiatives aimed at implementing population management curricula and, coincidentally, EHRs.   

“For years, the AAFP, and a coalition of other primary care groups, has been urging the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to study the development of PCMH curriculum in primary care residencies. A pilot project, funded by HRSA, is expected to start this spring at four universities (encompassing a total of 12 pediatric, family medicine and internal medicine residencies),” wrote Spogen. “The goal will be to develop a unified curriculum that could be deployed in any of our nation's roughly 1,000 primary care residency programs. Of course, the lack of standardized curriculum is just one barrier to making a residency program a PCMH. Population management is impossible without a robust electronic health record (EHR) system, and some programs just aren't there yet.”

There is no denying the steep costs training programs and residencies will have to endure to teach PCMH, but the model’s “proven…cost effective[ness]” and steadfastness to high-quality care make it worth the price tag, Spogen vies.

Alongside advances made by the AAFP, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine is also making grand efforts on behalf of PCMH education integration. Find a complete list of such initiatives and suggested curricula here.