Community Health Center Quality Equals or Exceeds that of Private Practices
CCHN Responds to Study Published
A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine yesterday finds that Community Health Centers demonstrate equal or better performance on select quality measures, despite serving patients who have more chronic disease and socioeconomic complexity.
“We are proud of this finding, but not surprised,” says Jessica Sanchez, RN, MSN, FNP, Chief Quality Officer of the Colorado Community Health Network (CCHN). “Health Centers are invested in both quality measurement and improvement. Performance is routinely reviewed at the provider, care team and clinic level, and adjustments are made to continuously improve both the patient experience and care outcomes.”
The study analyzed visits in the 2006-2008 National Ambulatory Medical Care survey, and found that Community Health Centers (also called Federally Qualified Community Health Centers) better adhere to national care guidelines than private practices on 6 of 18 quality measures. On 11 measures, Health Centers did as well as private practice, falling slightly short on only one measure. The study measured drug management of common chronic diseases, use of preventive counseling, use of screening tests, and appropriate prescriptions for elderly patients.
“This study is good news for both policymakers and taxpayers, who can rest assured that the billions invested in Health Centers nationally through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) for expansion will be well spent,” explains Sanchez. “This funding was designated by Congress to help meet the health care needs of the medically underserved both before and after the full implementation of PPACA.”
The study adds to the growing body of research about Health Center performance. A study published in 2011 by Health Affairs found that Colorado Health Center patients use hospital services less than those seen by private providers.
Colorado’s 17 Community Health Centers are working on a plan, called Access for All Colorado, to provide a health care home for one million Coloradans.