The simple term “Medical Home” is actually very complex.
It looks at many different elements of patient care and gets very specific on the types of care provided.
I am going to make it a little easier to understand. Let’s put it in mom terms.
A few years back I heard the term “Medical Home.” I felt my home was very medical. We have equipment, supplies, nurses, therapists, and all kinds of medical stuff in our home.
As it turns out, that is not what the term means at all. In a "medical home," it is the provider that manages and coordinates all your child’s care. The provider is your medical "team captain."
Depending on your child’s needs, their medical home might be their pediatrician, your family doctor, or any of the specialists that they see. The medical home is the person that you rely on the most. This is the person that helps to coordinate care with the rest of your medical team and who knows your child best, medically. This is the person you are most likely to call first when you have questions or concerns about your child’s health.
For my daughter, we had 15 specialists and her pediatrician as the doctors on her care team. We sort of had two medical homes. Depending on how she was doing and what we needed, we would pick one or the other. Sometimes, we considered her pediatrician as her medical home, while other times it was palliative care. Often we would bring them both in as medical home. Luckily, they worked really well together.
A friend of mine has a son with special healthcare needs and their medical home is his dermatologist.
Another has a daughter with complex seizures. This friend relies on her neurologist (epileptologist) a lot; however, she considers her pediatrician her medical home.
A new type of clinic started popping up a few years ago and they are getting more and more popular for children with complex needs. This type of clinic is called a comprehensive care clinic and they are designed to be the medical home for children with complex medical needs. These clinics are trained to work with large care teams.
The clinics are great at knowing how to file insurance/Medicaid paperwork. The clinics work closely with local home health providers to insure kids get the supplies, equipment and care they need at home. This approach is not perfect for all children, but it can be great for children with complex needs.
Each child is unique and each family must determine what is best for them.
Your medical home today may change as your child’s needs change. Chances are, if you have a child with complex medical needs, you probably already have a medical home. You may not be familiar with this term, or realize you have a medical home, but there is a good chance someone from your child’s care team is already playing this role.