Are Your Patients Better Off With a Patient-Centered Medical Home Approach?

Stormont Vail Health

Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) or just “medical homes” have been a buzz phrase in the healthcare design industry for over a decade. The PCMH approach was developed as an innovative new healthcare model that aimed to revolutionize the industry with more holistic care, better patient satisfaction, and decreased costs. Medical homes are not an architectural model or style, but a healthcare delivery-system driven by a team approach to a patient’s overall well-being. With that said, architectural design is integral to the implementation and success of this model.

One doesn’t have to travel far on the internet to find scores of white papers promoting the effectiveness of the Patient-Centered Medical Home approach. There is even a national PCMH recognition program that awards levels of distinction to PCMH practices. A facility does not have to view the medical home as an “all-in” process. The architect/designer does not need to wait to hear “medical home” as magic words to leverage design lessons from this healthcare model. You can think of the concept similarly to LEED; you can go down your checklist to obtain a level of recognition (which can be costly for both owner and architect), but the bottom line is that ultimately, it is about smart design. The same goes for the lessons learned from medical home design, which often dovetail perfectly with concepts of the Lean design process.

Even if it is a traditional primary care model or a specific specialty care practice, your facility can benefit from the Patient-Centered Medical Home approach. We also see that outreach clinics and rural clinics have been practicing the medical home approach long before it became a catchphrase in the industry. By necessity, these are cost-effective, multi-functional spaces often containing primary care, specialty care, urgent care, rehab, imaging and lab services, and pharmacy all under one roof combined with the kind of personal attention and communication offered in a small community where everybody knows each other. The essence of the medical home approach is the melding of that level of care with modern design and technology.


The Cotton O’Neil North Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, designed by HMN Architects, is an example of an outreach clinic with the principles of the medical home approach. The facility combines primary care, express care, imaging, and lab services. The core of the clinic space are “pods” with exam rooms surrounding the central bullpen. The bullpen houses open work areas with glass, not full walls, which help to contain noise but not limit visibility to the exam rooms. The provider offices, located off the bullpen, are open work areas with sliding doors. Alcoves, a recess in the wall, surround the pods and keeps equipment neatly tucked away but within easy reach.

“HMN Architects communicates effectively and meets even the most demanding challenges. HMN consistently meets and exceeds our expectations.”

David Cunningham, Vice President of Support Services and Facilities Officer

Each pod is colored-coded in a unique design to ease way-finding. Staff work areas combine both sitting height and standing height options. Exam rooms have communication space that focuses on the provider-patient connection. With a designer/client collaboration, few storage options are actually “built-in,” and instead has mobile, modular storage options. An ancillary space provides opportunities for shared continuing education.

While automated check-in machines have helped make exhaustive wait times a thing of the past, a concierge desk at the sun-lit filled lobby makes sure that the personal, patient-centered approach starts from the moment a patient enters the facility.

As designers, we have seen the success and benefits of the Patient-Centered Medical Home approach. We’d be happy to discuss this topic more in-depth and answer any questions.

To learn more about our project, Cotton O’Neil North Clinic, click here.

Article written by Byron Kurogi, LEED AP | Associate at HMN Architects, Inc.

Posted on May 3, 2019
Category: Featured Projects, HMN Services

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