Why Community Health Centers are the Future of Health Care
Patient-Centered Medical Homes
At its core a Medical Home offers comprehensive and coordinated services that put the patient and his or her family at the center of the care process. A personal physician and a health care team works together with the patient and family to reduce barriers and improve health outcomes. In this way, a Medical Home approaches health care from a more holistic perspective that promotes prevention, wellness and care coordination.
Under health care reform, the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is clearly identified as a means towards providing better care and improving patient health. The PCMH is also at the heart of future transformation of the Medicare and Medicaid programs and is seen as one of the key solutions to the crisis in our health care system.
Community Health Centers as Medical Homes
Health centers are already one of the most efficient providers of health care, saving the Medicaid system in Hawai‘i more than $128 million a year while providing high quality services to their patients. For the past ten years, health centers have been focusing on the efficient management of chronic illnesses through a nationwide quality improvement collaboration with thousands of participating centers. This collaboration allowed health centers to develop some of the most important elements of a Medical Home.
Unlike most private physicians, Community Health Centers:
- Employ a team of health care professionals to coordinate care between their primary physicians and other providers like specialists, mental health professionals, and dentists.
- Have relationships with other community providers and organizations, reducing barriers to care for their patients.
- Use state of the art electronic health records that allow them to coordinate care, track health outcomes, and take better care of their patients.
- Have comprehensive disease management and prevention programs that help educate patients and families.
- Provide a full array of services that include diagnostic services and prescription drugs.
As private physicians and the rest of the health care system begin the transition to this new model of care, Community Health Centers are already there, providing the quality health care services that are at the heart of the Medical Home.