There’s a New Product in Town: School-Based Medical Home Recognition

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School-based health centers have a new home in the NCQA Recognition program neighborhood: School-Based Medical Home.

What’s It About?

School-based medical home
School-Based Medical Home

School-based health centers are clinical practices located within a school. Many serve as medical homes, provide episodic care for students with urgent or emergent needs and act as a collaborative care center for students and the community. NCQA’s new School-Based Medical Home Recognition program combines the principles and criteria of a PCMH—a patient-centered medical home—with standards specific to school-based health centers.

NCQA worked with Montefiore School Health Program, the Primary Care Development Corporation and the New York School-Based Health Alliance to create the program requirements. This partnership was dedicated to developing a program that recognizes centers’ hard work and quality care.

Why It Matters

Access to health care is a concern for many families across the country. School-based health centers help close access gaps by providing care to students where they spend a lot of time: at school. In some cases, these centers provide services to students’ families and to members of the community.

According to recent School-Based Health Alliance data, there are more than 2,300 school-based health centers—they exist in almost every state and in the District of Columbia. These centers do more than provide school physicals and immunizations or treat minor illnesses; they help students manage chronic illnesses such as asthma or diabetes and they deliver mental health treatment.

Prior to joining NCQA, I was a health educator in Chicago, working with a community health center that had several school-based health sites. I saw first-hand how they make a real difference in the lives of the students and families they serve. Students learn early about their health and how to stay healthy, and create positive experiences with medical providers. It’s an honor to be on the policy side now, helping to create a program that recognizes the efforts and impact of these centers.

How to Learn More

NCQA has great resources to help you learn more and to help your practice become an NCQA-Recognized School-Based Medical Home. In December, NCQA hosted a webinar that provided a deeper dive into the program. You can watch it here. There’s also a page on the NCQA website that is dedicated to highlighting school-based medical homes, and you can download a copy of the standards and guidelines here.

February is School-Based Health Center Awareness Month! In honor of school-based health care and to encourage awareness, the School-Based Health Alliance held an hour-long Twitter chat. Advocates around the country shared stories and information about the benefits of school-based health centers. Check out NCQA’s Twitter page and follow posts using #SBHCmonth18 to read how NCQA’s School-Based Medical Home Recognition program and school-based health centers across the country are making a difference in the health of students and their communities.

In the News

Good news spreads fast! Here are some links to articles highlighting NCQA’s School-Based Medical Home Recognition program:

  • The Education Dive article is here.
  • Primary Care Development Corporations website. The article is here.
  • New York School-Based Health Alliance website. The article is here.
  • Visualutions (Healthcare Consulting Company). The article is here.
Rita Lewis
Rita is a Manager in Product Development at NCQA. Her focus is developing standards and guidelines for NCQA’s clinician and practice level recognition programs. Rita has a Master’s in Public Health in Health Policy from George Washington University and a background in health education.

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