The Critical Role of Clerks in the Patient-Centered Medical Home.Ann Fam Med. 2016 07; 14(4):377-9.AF
Research evaluating the effectiveness, function, and implementation of patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs) has found major socioprofessional transformations and contributions of primary care physicians and, to a lesser degree, nurses. Our longitudinal ethnographic research with teams implementing PCMH in Veterans Health Administration (VHA) primary care identifies the important but largely underutilized contributions of clerks to PCMH outcomes. Although the relationship of high-performing clerical staff to patient satisfaction is widely acknowledged, PCMH can be further enhanced by enabling clerks to use administrative tasks as conduits for investing in long-term personalized relationships with patients that foster trust in the PCMH and the broader health care organization. Such relationships are engendered through the care-coordination activities clerks perform, which may be bolstered by organizational investment in clerks as skilled health care team members.