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Minnesota Passes Health Care Homes Milestone

ehlinger.jpg"Early research indicates that this promising approach is not only resulting in better care but it is also reducing costs."

- By Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Commissioner of Health

Health reform is about much more than just improving insurance coverage, increasing access to care, and lowering costs. One of the biggest reforms is changing the way we deliver care so that it better meets the needs of patients. The development of health care homes is helping to make this reform happen. As a physician and the Commissioner of Health, I am impressed at the way Minnesota clinics are leading the nation with their efforts to improve care for patients by embracing health care homes and taking a team approach to care.
 
We recently announced that clinics certified as health care homes by the Minnesota Department of Health are now serving more than 2 million Minnesotans or nearly 40 percent of the population of the state.

A health care home is a primary care clinic or provider that puts patients at the center of a care team that not only treats them when they are sick but also helps them to stay well and meet their health goals, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. Though a good choice for all patients, health care homes are particularly beneficial to patients with chronic diseases or complex illnesses because they coordinate the different kinds of care and service these patients need.

This transformation in primary care has occurred in only a few years, following passage of Minnesota’s 2008 Health Care Reform Act, which authorized the state to certify health care homes and make care coordination payments to health care homes.

I am proud of the more than 170 clinics and 1,764 clinicians who have adopted this way of treating patients, because I know that even though becoming a health care home usually requires extra staff and administrative duties, these providers have voluntarily chosen this approach because it is the right thing to do for patients.

Early research indicates that this promising approach is not only resulting in better care but it is also reducing costs. One large provider in the Twin Cities used the health care home model to decrease costs by 5 percent over one year, while other comparable large system clinics saw a 2.6 percent increase in costs during the same time period.

I find it very heartening that clinics can both reduce costs and provide the additional services needed to qualify as a certified health care home, such as providing 24-hour access, maintaining a method of tracking patient health histories, monitoring and reporting the clinic's quality performance, and providing care planning and coordination to patients.

It’s a win-win-win (doctors, patients, payers) situation that creates the type of health care we want for Minnesota.

Find a certified health care home near you:
http://www.health.state.mn.us/healthreform/homes/certifiedhchs/index.html.