Featured Guest Blog by Beverly Grossman, Senior Policy Director,
The Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS), with support from the New York State Health Foundation, has just released a statewide plan for Community Health Centers to increase their capacity to serve more patients. The creation of the plan was led by CHCANYS’ Center for Primary Care Informatics and was developed through extensive quantitative and qualitative analyses. It identifies geographic areas that have the greatest need and potential for sustainable growth, estimates potential increases in capacity within the existing system, and highlights strategies for creating more capacity.
The new report identifies opportunities across four domains to expand FQHCs’ capacity and, under each, provides specific recommendations. The domains are:
- Development of high-performing community-based primary care. There are opportunities for health centers to implement practice redesign strategies that decrease patients’ waiting times, reduce patient no shows, maximize productivity and patient volume, and eliminate waste in their systems. Health centers also need support to implement team-based care, enhance their health information technology (HIT) capabilities, and expand the use of telemedicine.
- Primary care workforce recruitment and retention. Health centers must be able to recruit, train, and retain a workforce that is stable and well qualified to serve low-income patients. Filling vacant positions through expanding exiting programs is an immediate means to expand the capacity of providers to see more patients while implementing longer-term strategies to “grow their own” providers.
- Access to affordable capital. Capital funds and capital project assistance are needed to help providers build new sites, expand existing sites, purchase health information technology, renovate outdated facilities, and increase patient access through the use of telemedicine and mobile medical vans.
- Community-level planning. Additional, ongoing planning efforts at the community level will be a critical complement to regional planning efforts and will support the development of expansion plans that are feasible and sustainable.
This plan comes at a critical time. Federal and State health reforms require expanded primary care capacity to care for the influx of newly insured patients and ensure a strong safety net for those who remain uninsured. In New York State, FQHCs are expected to double capacity to serve nearly 3 million New Yorkers by 2015.
The report can be found at here.