The patient-centered medical home is a team-based health care delivery model led by a health care provider to provide comprehensive and continuous medical care to patients with a goal to obtain maximal health outcomes. The current conversation around this model tends to be focused on chronic disease management in adult patients. The research tells us that many of these chronic issues can be linked back to childhood.
Pediatricians have tremendous access to young children and their families, seeing more children than any other service system. From prenatal to age five, families have over 20 regularly scheduled health care visits. When these visits take place in a fully realized medical home, they are a great way to provide a full range of supports to young children and their families.
Bringing the benefits of a patient-centered medical home into pediatric primary care allows for opportunities for prevention, education, and engagement with families. A key component of the early childhood medical home is care coordination across a number of systems. In addition to traditional health promotion and prevention activities, the early childhood medical home should address:
- Social-emotional development of children; including positive parenting and addressing toxic stress.
- Early learning—recognizing parents as first teachers and the critical role of access to quality child care environments.
- Access to family supports, including family leave insurance, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and food stamps.
Docs for Tots works with community partners to bring attention to the unique potential of an early childhood medical home. To support this vision, Docs for Tots:
- Highlights best practices and innovative models.
- Facilitates communication between medical home and other early childhood settings.
- Provides training and technical assistance to transform practice.
- Emphasizes early childhood as Patient Centered Medical Home (the formal “certification” of clinical settings as a medical home) rolls out in states.
- Brings new champions to advocate for improving the medical home’s capacity to support child development.