In response to requests from family physicians interested in transforming their practices into patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs)—but unsure exactly how to get there—the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has launched an interactive online tool dubbed the PCMH Planner.
The planner was created to help physicians and staff members sharpen their PCMH focus and then take the right steps, at the right time, to achieve medical home practice transformation. The AAFP creators of the planner acknowledge that building a PCMH requires dedication and hard work from the entire practice team. But they point out that with clear blueprints, the right tools and expert direction, the task becomes easier.
Regardless of where a practice is in the transformation process—whether navigating those first challenging baby steps or, perhaps, waylaid midstride by an unforeseen problem—AAFP says this resource can help physicians assess their current progress in the PCMH transformation process; identify specific goals to fill any gaps; track their practice's progress through the planner's dashboard; and access important PCMH resources needed each step of the way.
The planner is intended to help practices prepare for the PCMH recognition process, but each individual practice is responsible for ensuring that it does the hard work required to achieve PCMH recognition through the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) or other entities such as The Joint Commission and the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care.
According to Tracey Allen-Ehrhart, manager of the AAFP's center for quality, the Academy's rekindled sense of urgency about PCMH practice transformation came in part from statistics gleaned from the AAFP's 2012 Practice Profile survey. According to those results, obtained in June 2013, only about 24 percent of family medicine practices reported having achieved official recognition as a PCMH practice. That's important, she noted, because physicians' payment and, in some cases, a practice's survival, may hang in the balance.
“We heard very clearly from members, especially those in solo and small practices, that they could not afford to hire practice facilitators to help them transform their practices to the PCMH model," Allen-Ehrhart said in a statement. "Many family physicians have asked the AAFP for a resource that simply tells them what to do. Members want a resource to effectively guide them through that process step-by-step.”