Making High-Quality Care Accessible to Vulnerable Populations

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<p>Accountable care organizations and medical homes have received a lot of attention as models for providing high-quality, efficient health care. In the new issue of <em>Health Affairs</em>, now available online, Commonwealth Fund–supported researchers offer insight on how to ensure that America's most vulnerable populations, including low-income families and patients with complex conditions, can also benefit from these promising ways of delivering care. </p><p>The <a href="/publications/journal-article/2012/aug/promise-and-peril-accountable-care-vulnerable-populations">Promise and Peril of Accountable Care for Vulnerable Populations: A Framework for Overcoming Obstacles</a>, by Valerie A. Lewis, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. While accountable care organizations (ACOs) hold promise to provide better overall patient care at lower cost, socioeconomically disadvantaged and medically complex patients may not have the same access to ACOs as other groups. This study identifies policies and strategies that can promote the formation of ACOs across diverse settings and the participation of all types of patients. </p>
<p>The <a href="/publications/journal-article/2012/aug/post-katrina-conversion-clinics-new-orleans-medical-homes">Post-Katrina Conversion of Clinics in New Orleans to Medical Homes Shows Change Is Possible, but Hard to Sustain</a>, by Diane R. Rittenhouse, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues. A program to transform community-based clinics into patient-centered medical homes in hurricane-ravaged New Orleans dramatically increased access to primary care services for the area's poor and underserved residents, according to this study. Progress stalled, however when federal grant funding ran out—indicating that safety-net clinics may require additional support to undertake and sustain large-scale improvements to their primary care capacity. </p>