I’ve seen patients thrive, survive and prosper in more than 30 years at Family Health Services. Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) like mine are a critical component of healthcare in the U.S. They provide healthcare to more than 21 million people, many who are considered low-income and with no insurance.¹But in nearly two dozen states, close to four million adults fall into that crack in the system where they don’t qualify for Medicaid, but also can’t afford insurance. For federally qualified health centers, this can be draining on a budget.
At Family Health, we’re no longer struggling. We’ve realized center profitability. There were actions, conversations and partnerships that we took on to get out of the red.
1. How can you streamline services?
We see more than half the people in the rural county we serve. Our physicians aren’t just doing wellness checks, and we realized with the volume of patients we see it didn’t make sense to continue sending them to other facilities for lab work. While it was an initial investment, we worked with our supplier to upgrade our lab. We went from zero testing to a moderately complex lab in just two years. Patients can get their results in one day. We’ve streamlined our services where we’re seeing better compliance from patients and our clinicians can quickly work toward diagnosis and treatment.
2. Do you understand your patient population?
Our staff of clinicians has a strong understanding of the health of our community. A majority of our patients have coronary artery disease, hypertension and diabetes. Lab work is inevitable. Our patient volume was a sign that adding analyzers to our lab was a good opportunity for change. Capturing data on our patients’ health and analyzing their well-being gave us greater insight and allowed us to make important, impactful decisions to optimize our center. We have been able to meet our targets a year ahead of schedule by understanding our patient volume increases and the need for expansion.
3. Are you standardizing your practice?
At Family Health, we see adults and children. We also offer mental health, dental, optometry, pharmacy, and radiology services. Of our 15 physicians, some who used to have their own independent practice outside of our facilities, we learned it’s just not smart to have variation in clinical services that are offered under one roof. By working with one supplier, we identified products and programs that were best for our practice, but also received accuracy and competitive pricing for all areas of care.
My team and I had to be open and willing to listen to ideas and options. Healthcare is changing and even a rural community health center has to accept change in order for our patients to live their healthiest lives.
Learn more about the equipment and implementation needed to improve patient care with in-house testing at your health center.
Watch how Family Health Services became more operationally efficient.
1. Peter Shin, Jessica Sharac, Zoe Barber, Sara Rosenbaum, and Julia Paradise. Community Health Centers: A 2013 Profile and Prospects as ACA Implementation Proceeds. Kaiser Family Foundation Brief. Published March 17, 2015.