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Novel 'medical home' program for pediatric patients, families cuts ER visits in half
Date:3/16/2010

For parents of children with multiple medical problems, keeping up with countless doctor's appointments, ongoing tests and a variety of medications can be overwhelming, especially for those in challenging socioeconomic situations.

As a result, families often wind up using the emergency room, the country's most expensive form of care delivery, to get help for their kids.

But a growing concept in health care reform called the "medical home" offers parents a way to simplify, organize and coordinate the complexities of their medically fragile child's health care needs. The medical home is not a location but an approach to care coordination designed to provide a constant trusted source of care, typically by a general pediatrician.

In the first quantitative study to look at the benefits of utilizing the medical home concept in a resident-education outpatient clinic at a specialized children's hospital, UCLA researchers found that participation in the program at UCLA significantly reduced families' use of the emergency room. The findings appear in the March 11 online edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Pediatrics.

The medical home program at UCLA follows guidelines established by the American Academy of Pediatrics and includes four basic components: a formal 60-minute intake appointment, follow-up appointments of 40 minutes (twice the length of standard appointments), access to a bilingual family liaison to help families navigate the medical system, and a family binder that keeps all a child's medical information in one place.

The UCLA study, in addition to examining the program's effect on emergency room visits, focused on the need to train future pediatricians those who are now medical residents and students in the principles of the medical home and found this could also be done successfully.

"While the medical home concept has been shown to be effective in community pediatric practi
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Contact: Amy Albin
aalbin@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-8672
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert  

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