I would imagine the majority of people are in agreement that patient-centered care is a good thing. However converting to a patient centered medical home (PCMH) may not be the best thing for you. At least not right now. It’s a long, hard process and it takes a lot of time and dedication. Here are a few things to consider before making that big decision:

Research, research, research… oh, and then do more research:
First things first, before making a decision about implementing the PCMH model and seeking NCQA recognition, take a look at your own practice. Does its current philosophy and goals match that of a PCMH? Already being rooted in providing patient-centered care can give you a big leg up during the implementation process. If current philosophies are not aligned, consider changing those aspects of your practice before seeking full PCMH implementation and recognition.

Invest in comprehensive IT:
A PCMH is very much focused on evidence-based medical care. Not only will providers and care coordination use that information to recommend treatment for patients, but practices must be able to provide comprehensive quality reporting to acquire and maintain NCQA recognition. It will be essential to have an EHR system that can track and report patient data quickly and easily. In addition, IT systems that can be scaled to include patient communication portals and secure messaging will also be essential.

Take the time to get everyone on board:
The road that leads to PCMH recognition will be long, curvy, mountainous, and bumpy. The process will take a lot of time and effort from your staff, your physicians, and your executive leadership. Make this a decision you all decide on together and before starting the process, make sure everyone has bought in to the idea.

Slow down and do it right:
Remember that while you’re looking to make these changes to provide better patient care, you’ve got patients that need care now! Try to maintain a balance between PCMH and continuing your normal daily tasks. Determine the different PCMH steps in the process and set small goals to get there. Take it one goal, and one step, at a time.

For all the time, work, and money the PCMH implementation process will take, it’s worth it to make an informed decision. Heck, make an over-informed decision! Take your time to research what it takes, to make sure everyone in the practice is on board and ready to help, and to make sure you’ve got the technology that will help make it happen.