Community health clinics at the forefront
Family HealthCare Network and other community clinics and health centers in the state are at the forefront of health care transformation and have been preparing for health care reform implementation for years.
The Affordable Care Act is now the law of the land, and millions will now have access to health care coverage. The ACA also put forth major changes within the health care system to ensure that once the newly insured have coverage, they receive quality care. That is why the ACA included the simultaneous pursuit of three main goals, also known as the Triple Aim, which are: improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations and reducing per capita costs of health care.
Family HealthCare Network and other community clinics and health centers have long worked to achieve all of these goals since their inception in the 1960s. These organizations were born from the need to provide care for the under-served and uninsured because the traditional health care market was not adequately meeting the needs of all people.
The mission of CCHCs is also predicated on the idea that health is local, and that in order to best serve those in your community, you have to meet them where they are, provide care in their language, in a way that is sensitive to their culture, understand the social factors impacting their lives, and treat them holistically as a person, and not as an isolated condition.
This is part of the reason why Family HealthCare Network has become a provider of choice for one in three residents of Tulare County and the largest primary care provider of care in the county. We remain one of only a few ambulatory care organizations who have achieved accreditation by the Joint Commission.
Additionally, in the last year, we have been designated as a Level 3 Patient Centered Health Home by the National Committee on Quality Assurance and then subsequently accredited by the Joint Commission with a separate designation as a Patient-Centered Medical Home. The high-quality care we provide also translates into better health outcomes for our patients and improved health in the communities we serve.
A recent study conducted by the California Primary Care Association, in conjunction with John Snow, Inc. looked at how MediCal managed care patients who utilized a Federally Qualified Health Center for primary care compared to non-FQHC patients. This study confirmed that by providing patients with high-quality care, federally-qualified health centers ultimately drive down the overall cost of care to the health system.
The study looked at key factors such as hospital stays, hospital readmission rates,and number of emergency room visits, all of which were lower for FQHC patients than non-FQHC patients — making it clear that FQHCs provide value to both their patients and the health care system as a whole. As we move forward with health care reform implementation, we at Family HealthCare Network plan to continue to play a vital role in the improved health of our community and drive down health care costs for everyone.
Harry Foster is president and Chief Executive Officer for Family Healthcare Network, which began in Porterville.