Sunday, September 12, 2010

Certifying Healthcare Homes

Residents in Minnesota with complex and chronic conditions are now able to enroll in healthcare homes also known as medical homes since the first group of clinics have been certified by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The development of healthcare homes is part of Minnesota’s 2008 health reform law and includes payment to primary care providers for partnering with patients and families to coordinate care.

The first eleven certified healthcare homes are in several regions in the state, including both urban and rural clinics ranging from single physician to large system clinics. MDH’s goal is to certify up to 150 organizations by the end of 2011. Currently, nearly 50 additional clinics from around the state representing more than 400 clinicians are in the process of applying for certification.

In addition, 500 people have attended certification training sessions at regional workshops around the state, and more than 30 individual clinics and health systems have received a variety of mini-grants to help them move toward certification.

To be certified as a health care home, providers and clinics must meet a rigorous set of standards that were developed through a public-private stakeholder process, complete an application, and participate in a site visit. A certification assessment tool is available and applicants are encouraged to use this to determine which clinicians are ready to apply for certification as a health care home.

Dr. Jeff Schiff, Medical Director of Minnesota Health Care Programs at the Department of Human Services is partnering with MDH on the healthcare homes initiative. He noted that certified healthcare homes now qualify to receive a monthly per-person care coordination payment for patients with multiple chronic conditions but eligibility for payments may depend on a patient’s health insurance plan.

In preparation for completing applications, MDH and the Minnesota Department of Human Services will put in place a stakeholder advisory task force to advise and recommend options to state staff and the commissioners on key elements concerning the application.

AHRQ within HHS recently awarded a grant for $596,000 to HealthPartners Research Foundation to study the transformation of traditional primary care clinics in Minnesota to health care or medical homes. The Minnesota Departments of Health and Human Services will work with the HealthPartners Research Foundation on the study along with Minnesota Community Measurement and other partners.

They will test whether clinics that have transformed their practice by implementing a healthcare home will see better quality of care for patients with diabetes or heart disease. They will then interview and survey successful clinics to identify key changes important for transformation. The study will also compare more and less transformed clinics in healthcare costs and utilization along with patient and clinician staff satisfaction.

On the federal front, CMS released a solicitation to the states to apply to become a “Medicare Multi-Payer Advanced Primary Care Practice” demonstration site. CMS will pay healthcare homes a care coordination fee consistent with the multi-payer program now being put into place for Medicare fee-for-service enrollees.

Go to for more information.