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'Medical Homes' Help Kids Get Comprehensive Care
Date:3/14/2011

By Jenifer Goodwin
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Children who have a "medical home" -- that is, a pediatrician or nurse they see regularly who offers comprehensive care -- are more likely to have their medical and dental needs met, new research finds.

Yet it's the sickest children -- those who have a chronic condition or special need and require the most care -- who are less likely to get the sort of care a medical home offers, the researchers said.

Children have a "medical home" if they have a usual source of care; a personal physician or nurse; are able to get referrals when needed; and receive help in coordinating health care needs, such as for a patient with chronic illness or special needs who sees multiple specialists, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A medical home must also be "family centered," meaning that the doctor is a good listener, spends enough time with the patient, is sensitive to family values, and makes an interpreter available when needed, said study lead author Bonnie Strickland, director of the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration's division of services for children with special health care needs.

"Parents had to answer 'usually' or 'always' to those questions," Strickland said. "The medical home bar is set pretty high."

About 57 percent of U.S. children ages 1 to 17 years received care in medical homes in 2007, according to the study that used data on nearly 84,000 children from the National Survey of Children's Health.

Younger children were more likely to have a medical home than older children. There were racial and ethnic disparities as well: White children were the most likely to have a medical home, while Hispanic children were the least likely, followed closely by black children.

Mothers without a high school education were significantly less likely to report their children had a medical home, as were th
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