community health center, information systems, patient panels, primary healthcare



  1. Marx, Rani PhD, MPH
  2. Drennan, Michael J. MD
  3. Johnson, Elizabeth C. MD
  4. Solnit, Stephen A. BA
  5. Hirozawa, Anne M. MPH
  6. Katz, Mitchell H. MD


Patients with a medical home tend to fare better. One of the first steps toward establishing a medical home is to create panels by designating a clinic responsible for each patient. In 2006, we defined active clinic panels (all patients assigned to a clinic and seen there for one or more outpatient medical visits during the past 2 years) for the San Francisco Department of Public Health's 13 community- and four public hospital-based primary care clinics and began automatically assigning previously unassigned patients to clinics based on utilization. In 2007, we created a Web-based user interface for managing panels from within the electronic medical record. Providers and medical directors can now view and verify their panels and link to patient demographic and utilization data. Through April 2008, 14 508 patients have been auto-assigned to a clinic; on average 320 patients were assigned monthly. A total of 82 637 primary care patients were on a clinic panel, and 73.6 percent of them were active. Patient demographics, panel size, and productivity vary considerably by clinic. By establishing active panels and providing Web-based access to panel data, we can systematically assign patients a clinical home; enable providers to manage their panels; accurately measure utilization, capacity, and productivity; assess patient characteristics; and generate clinical quality indicators based on an accurate denominator. These management tools will allow us to set policies and work toward our goal of establishing a medical home for San Franciscans who rely on publicly funded care.