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Health Information Center

Medical Home

What is a medical home?

A medical home is not a building, house, or hospital, but a better, family-centered way to provide care for children with special health care needs and disabilities. In a medical home, a pediatrician or family practice physician coordinates care to make sure your child receives all the medical and non-medical services needed.
Why is a medical home important?

As a parent of a child with disabilities or chronic health conditions, you know that working and communicating with many doctors, nurses, and other health, education, insurance, and social service professionals can be difficult. Your child and your family can benefit from a family-centered, teamwork approach for providing care. Most importantly, a medical home can improve your child’s health.

How does a medical home work?

In a medical home, information and concerns are shared by everyone caring for your child. Needs are addressed in a coordinated way, with a primary care doctor and their clinical staff serving as a coordinator of your medical home team. A written care plan is shared with your family and all of your child’s health care providers.

To build a medical home, first choose a pediatrician, a specialist, or a family practice doctor you trust to coordinate your medical home team. This doctor will be your primary care doctor who will partner with you to:

  • Coordinate care for your child
  • Develop care plans
  • Communicate with other professionals
  • Exchange information
  • Share decision making
  • Promote health and quality of life for the child and family

What are the roles and duties within a medical home?

The primary care physician and other health care providers:

  • Know the child’s health history
  • Listen to the parents’ and child’s concerns and needs
  • Work in partnership with families to ensure that the medical and non-medical needs of the child and family are met
  • Create a trusting, collaborative relationship with the family
  • Treat the child with compassion and understanding
  • Develop a care plan with the family for their child when needed
  • Share impartial and complete information on an ongoing basis

The parents and child:

  • Are comfortable sharing concerns and questions with the child’s primary care physician and other health care providers
  • Routinely communicate their child’s needs and family priorities to the primary care physician, who promotes communication between the family and other health care providers when needed
  • Feel comfortable asking for things to be explained differently when they don’t understand

A medical home physician ensures care that is:

  • Accessible:  Care is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in the child’s community.
  • Family-Centered:  Recognition that the family is the principal caregiver and the center of strength and support for children
  • Continuous:  Same primary pediatric health care professionals are available from infancy through adolescence.
  • Comprehensive:  Includes sick and well care as well as education and community referral needs
  • Coordinated:  Families are linked to support, educational, and community-based services.
  • Compassionate:  Concern for well-being of child and family is expressed and demonstrated.
  • Culturally effective:  Family’s cultural background is recognized, valued, and respected.

What are the benefits of a medical home?

  • More organized care
  • More efficient communication – families don’t have to repeat information to multiple caregivers
  • Support from a team of caregivers
  • Exams scheduled in a coordinated, efficient way without duplicated services
  • Improved health care for your child

How do I build a medical home?

  • Discuss ways to improve your child’s care and how to begin setting up a medical home with your doctor or other care providers.
  • Read the National Center for Medical Home Implementation’s webpage, How to Implement.
  • Learn more by contacting PACER’s Family-to-Family Health Information Center at 952-838-9000.

Check out the American Academy of Pediatrics National Center for Medical Home Implementation for more information.

To learn more about Medical Home, contact PACER’s Health Information Center at (952) 838-9000 or (800) 53-PACER, toll free in Minnesota.

Additional Information

Who are children with special health needs?

Minnesota children with special health needs (MCSHN), as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Bureau,

“are those who have or are at increased risk for a chronic physical, development, behavioral, or emotional condition and who also require health and related services of a type or amount beyond that required by children generally.”

This includes children:

  • Who have a disability or chronic illness
  • Who suffer physical and emotional consequences from biological or environmental risks, including prematurity and extreme poverty
  • Who have been abused or neglected
  • Who need special education or other support services

See Minnesota Children with Special Health Needs for more information.

What is family-centered care?

Family-centered care is an approach to the planning and delivery of health care services that is centered on partnerships among health care providers, patients, and families.

See the Institute for Family-Centered Care for more information.