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Racial And Ethnic Disparities Persist At Veterans Health Administration Patient-Centered Medical Homes

Author: Donna L. Washington, W. Neil Steers, Alexis K. Huynh, Susan M. Frayne, Uchenna S. Uchendu, Deborah Riopelle, Elizabeth M. Yano, Fay S. Saechao, Katherine J. Hoggatt
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Patient-centered medical homes are widely promoted as a primary care delivery model that achieves better patient outcomes. It is unknown if their benefits extend equally to all racial/ethnic groups. In 2010 the Veterans Health Administration, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), began implementing patient-centered medical homes nationwide. In 2009 significant disparities in hypertension or diabetes control were present for most racial/ethnic groups, compared with whites. In 2014 hypertension disparities were similar for blacks, had become smaller but remained significant for Hispanics, and were no longer significant for multiracial veterans, whereas disparities had become significant for American Indians/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders. By contrast, in 2014 diabetes disparities were similar for American Indians/Alaska Natives, blacks, and Hispanics, and were no longer significant for Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders. We found that the modest benefits of the VA’s implementation of patient-centered medical homes were offset by competing multifactorial external, health system, provider, and patient factors, such as increased patient volume. To promote health equity, health care innovations such as patient-centered medical homes should incorporate tailored strategies that account for determinants of racial/ethnic variations. Evaluations of patient-centered medical homes should monitor outcomes for racial/ethnic groups.

Patient-centered medical homes are widely promoted as a primary care delivery model that achieves better patient outcomes. It is unknown if their benefits extend equally to all racial/ethnic groups. In 2010 the Veterans Health Administration, part of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), began implementing patient-centered medical homes nationwide. In 2009 significant disparities in hypertension or diabetes control were present for most racial/ethnic groups, compared with whites. In 2014 hypertension disparities were similar for blacks, had become smaller but remained significant for Hispanics, and were no longer significant for multiracial veterans, whereas disparities had become significant for American Indians/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders. By contrast, in 2014 diabetes disparities were similar for American Indians/Alaska Natives, blacks, and Hispanics, and were no longer significant for Native Hawaiians/other Pacific Islanders. We found that the modest benefits of the VA’s implementation of patient-centered medical homes were offset by competing multifactorial external, health system, provider, and patient factors, such as increased patient volume. To promote health equity, health care innovations such as patient-centered medical homes should incorporate tailored strategies that account for determinants of racial/ethnic variations. Evaluations of patient-centered medical homes should monitor outcomes for racial/ethnic groups.

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