Rural Health Clinic Readiness for Patient-Centered Medical Home Recognition: Preparing for the Evolving Healthcare Marketplace


The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model both reaffirms traditional primary care values such as continuity of care, connection with an identified personal clinician, provision of same day- and after-hours access and also prepares providers to succeed in the evolving healthcare system by focusing on accountability, continuous quality improvement, public reporting of quality data, data exchange, and patient satisfaction. However, little is known about the readiness of the over 4,000 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) to meet the PCMH Recognition standards established by the National Council for Quality Assurance (NCQA). This policy brief reports findings from a survey of RHCs that examined their capacity to meet the NCQA PCMH requirements, and discusses the implications of the findings for efforts to support RHC capacity development.

Key Findings:

  • Based on their performance on the "must pass" elements and related key factors, Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) are likely to have difficulties gaining National Center for Quality Assurance's (NCQA) Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Recognition.
  • RHCs perform best on standards related to recording demographic information and managing clinical activities, particularly for those using an electronic health record.
  • RHCs perform less well on improving access to and continuity of services, supporting patient self-management skills and shared decision-making, implementing continuous quality improvement systems, and building practice teams.
  • RHCs are likely to need substantial technical assistance targeting clinical and operational performance to gain NCQA PCMH Recognition.
Maine Rural Health Research Center
John Gale, Zach Croll, David Hartley, Andrew Coburn