Community health centers exceed benchmarks

 Three community health centers in New York, Miami and Washington, D.C., are performing at a level equal to or above national quality benchmarks, a recent study says.

The findings suggest that while they are capable of competing with their larger, better-funded centers, community health centers simply haven’t been showing it.

The United Health Foundation required three of its most recent grantees, community health centers serving underserved populations in New York, Miami and Washington, D.C., to demonstrate quality for the first time through a national reporting system.

The centers, which have not historically engaged in standardized national reporting systems, reported acceptable or exemplary performance in the areas of preventive care, prenatal HIV screening, treatment of diabetes and asthma, and patient satisfaction levels.

“This evaluation not only demonstrates the effective role health centers play in addressing the health care needs of the nation’s most vulnerable populations, but also their consistent ability to improve on the high quality of care they already provide,” Peter Shin, associate research professor in the department of health policy at the George Washington University Medical Center, says in a statement.

Funded by the United Health Foundation as a condition of grants awarded to the health centers, the study was carried out by medical center researchers and published in the Journal of Ambulatory Care Management.

Under the guidance of researchers, the three health centers adopted a series of performance measures from the Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance, in addition to patient satisfaction surveys adapted from the national Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey.

The ability to demonstrate quality through such standardized, performance-based reporting systems may become increasingly important as both government and private insurance companies move toward performance-based purchasing, the study says.

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