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November 2006

Choosing a Quality Medical Home

Children Need Comprehensive Consistent Care

From minor coughs to serious illnesses, there comes a time in every child's life when he or she needs medical attention. But, when non-emergency ailments such as colds, fevers, and ear infections arise, too many families head to the Emergency Room (ER) because they don't have a primary care provider. When children don't have a primary care doctor or nurse, they fail to receive the comprehensive, consistent, and coordinated care they need.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children and youth have a Medical Home where they receive regular care from clinicians who know their medical history. According to the 2003 National Survey of Children's Health, more than half of children in North Carolina do not have a Medical Home. Data indicates that less than half saw a regular doctor or nurse that year.

What is a Medical Home?

A Medical Home is a doctor's office, clinic or health department where the staff knows the child, the child's family, and the child's health history. From well visits like checkups and immunizations to sick visits, accidents, and special health needs, a Medical Home is where parents can turn for help in caring for their child during office or after-office hours.

What are the Benefits of a Medical Home

When children and youth have a quality medical home, everybody wins. Patients and families feel more satisfied with their care. There is an efficient use of resources and fewer non-emergency cases in the ER. Families receive important health information and get connected with support organizations.

How Does One Choose a Quality Medical Home?

Families should choose a Medical Home with a healthcare professional they trust - someone who respects them as a partner in their child's care.

The American Academy of Pediatrics says a quality Medical Home should be:

  • Accessible - Care is provided in the child's community and accepts all insurance, including Medicaid.
  • Family-centered - Health professionals respect the family as the principal caregiver.
  • Continuous - The same primary healthcare professionals are available from infancy through adolescence.
  • Comprehensive- Health care is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and addresses preventive, basic and specialized consultative care needs.
  • Coordinated - Families are linked to support, educational and community-based services.
  • Compassionate - Concern for the well-being of the child and family is demonstrated.
  • Culturally-competent - The family's cultural background is recognized, valued and respected.

How Can You Help?

By distributing Medical Home brochures and bookmarks, you can link families with resources they need. A new bilingual (English/Spanish) bookmark called "Choosing a Quality Medical Home," now available from the North Carolina Healthy Start Foundation, lists the questions that parents may ask when selecting a quality Medical Home. These materials benefit new or expectant parents, families of children and youth with special health care needs, children newly enrolled in Health Check or NC Health Choice and families from minority communities.

To view Medical Home materials, see links below. To order materials, click here.

This Campaign was developed in partnership with the following organizations:


Brochure about the Medical Home approach
Bookmark about Choosing a Quality Medical Home
NCHSF Catalog of Medical Home Materials
American Association of Pediatrics Web Site
The National Survey of Children's Health 2003

Click here to order free educational materials.

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Last updated: November 2006


At a glance

NC Medical Home Stats for 2003


With a Medical Home: 47%

Who had a preventive medical visit in the past year: 79%

With current health insurance: 92%

With consistent health insurance coverage: 85%

Source: The National Survey of Children's Health 2003, State-level Data

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