Community health workers bring cost savings to patient-centered medical homes

J Community Health

The Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model demonstrated that processes of care can be improved while unnecessary care, such as preventable emergency department utilization, can be reduced through better care coordination. A complementary model, the Integrated Primary Care and Community Support (I-PaCS) model, which integrates community health workers (CHWs) into primary care settings, functions beyond improved coordination of primary medical care to include management of the social determinants of health. However, the PCMH model puts downward pressure on the panel sizes of primary care providers, increasing the average fixed costs of care at the practice level. While the I-PaCS model layers an additional cost of the CHWs into the primary care cost structure, that additional costs is relatively small. The purpose of this study is to simulate the effects of the PCMH and I-PaCS models over a 3-year period to account for program initiation to maturity. The costs and cost offsets of the model were estimated at the clinic practice level. The studies which find the largest cost savings are for high-risk, paneled patients and therefore do not represent the effects of the PCMH model on moderate-utilizing patients or practice-level effects. We modeled a 12.6% decrease in the inpatient hospital, outpatient hospital and emergency department costs of high and moderate risk patients. The PCMH is expected to realize a 1.7% annual savings by year three while the I-PaCS program is expected to a 7.1% savings in the third year. The two models are complementary, the I-PaCS program enhancing the cost reduction capability of the PCMH.

Moffett ML, Kaufman A, Bazemore A. Community health workers bring cost savings to patient-centered medical homes. J Community Health. 2018;43(1):1-3. PMID: 28695425. DOI: 10.1007/s10900-017-0403-y.

Publication Year: 
Resource Type: 
Peer Reviewed Research
Study Design: 
Other Study Design
Social Determinant of Health: 
Not Specified
Screening Research: