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For several years now and with a growing messianic fervor, physicians and health care experts have been responding to the need to deliver more efficient and better primary care with one response: patient-centered medical homes.

Not long ago, I found myself doing the same with a friend who prides himself on being a well-informed patient. But instead of an overwhelmingly enthusiastic or even mildly interested response, my friend stared at me blankly. “What in the world are you talking about?” he finally asked. “A hospice? A halfway house? Some kind of group home for patients?”

I explained that a patient-centered medical home can be any primary care doctor’s office, but it is run with a different philosophy. Care is team-based, preventive and comprehensive, rather than one-on-one, fee-for-service or managed. Record keeping and sharing is seamless and electronic, rather than unwieldy and paper-based.

Clinicians from the team are easily accessible in person, on the phone or via the internet within 24 hours, rather than hidden behind labyrinthine automatic answering services and overbooked clinic schedules.

My friend suddenly became very interested.

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