Trying a new approach to primary care: prevention

July 20, 2011 - 6:29 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A growing model for health care is showing promising results and saving insurers millions of dollars.

It's called a patient-centered medical home. The model encourages the family doctor to act as a health coach and focus as much on preventing illness as on treating it.

WellPoint, UnitedHealth and other insurers have pilot projects testing the concept. The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are making plans to use medical homes, too.

Michigan's largest insurer says it saved $65 million to $70 million last year through its medical-homes program. But the idea requires big changes to traditional primary care, and experts say that may slow its growth.