While there was some initial speculation that the Joint Commission's niche in the medical home field would be with hospital-affiliated ambulatory practices, Kulczycki said that is not how the program is turning out.
According to Kulczycki, about 14 more organizations will be designated as primary-care medical homes by the Joint Commission before the year is out and there are commitments already from about 25 more to go through the process in 2012, but he said the all the initial interest in the program is coming from federally qualified community health centers.
“There is a lot of interest from both hospital-sponsored and free-standing medical practices, but they haven't come forward yet,” Kulczycki said.
To receive the medical home designation, a practice has to meet 165 required elements, 113 of which are already part of the Joint Commission's ambulatory-care accreditation process plus 52 new requirements, Kulczycki explained, adding that the new medical home elements deal with access to care, care coordination and patient-centeredness.
“We're excited about the immediate and prompt participation of our customer base,” Kulczycki said.
But the Joint Commission has a ways to go to catch up with the Patient Centered Medical Home recognition program launched by National Committee for Quality Assurance in December 2008. As of last month, it has recognized 2,494 organizations as medical homes.
Kulczycki said the Joint Commission program differs from the NCQA program because of the onsite visits, while the NCQA conducts “desktop audits. “
Back in March, the NCQA said it does perform a handful of onsite inspections, but noted that it has no plans to expand on that because of the added expense of travel, lodging and car rentals for inspectors.
But Kulczycki said the medical home survey is conducted “with no additional fees on top of the accreditation program.”
Another organization, the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, has “certified” 67 practices as medical homes since launching its own program in 2008 which also includes onsite visits.