Date of Conferral





Health Services


Nicoletta Alexander


Large portions of the US population live in poor inner-city communities. Health needs assessment data have shown that these communities have disproportionately high rates of chronic illnesses. The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model was developed to address the gaps that exist in the primary care system, and emphasizes a redesign of primary care that is patient centered, utilizes multiple levels of healthcare professionals, information technology, and care coordination. However, little evidence exists on the value of this model which may explain why it has not gained wide acceptance by primary care providers. Therefore, this study was designed to examine the efficacy of the PCMH model through emergency department and inpatient utilization reductions, and with a specific focus on the role of social connectedness. This research used existing data on 706 participants from Columbia University and a local New York inner-city hospital. An in-depth analysis of hospital utilization data, using an unpaired two-sample t-test and linear regression, found that the PCMH framework strengthens continuity of care and care coordination, and helps reduce avoidable hospitalization utilization. Additionally, these reductions were greater for study participants with strong social support networks. This research highlights the relationships between primary care, social support networks, and good health outcomes. Over time, further enhancement of the PCMH and systemic changes to the delivery of care may contribute to the development of a stronger primary care system that place patients at the center of care, focuses on the importance of social connectedness, and contributes to a lasting impact on society through the development of overall healthier communities.