Public hospitals, community health centers and faith-based organizations across the U.S. are known for their traditional safety-net setup. After passing of the PPACA, these entities have started playing a more crucial role in the U. S. healthcare system.

Why their services are so crucial

In a recent survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund and Modern Healthcare, it was found that safety-net providers serve the critical need of patients who remain uninsured and provide culturally competent care and translation services. Majority of respondents to the survey said that Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) would improve financial protection for these groups. They overwhelmingly supported the adoption and spread of ACOs, and found the strategies designed to improve the quality of care that vulnerable populations receive from safety-net providers acceptable. They also supported adoption and spread of patient-centered medical homes and endorsed the steps taken to adopt integrated models of care. Also, policies that would guarantee access to preventive, primary and acute care for undocumented immigrants were thought to be the best option by most of them.

According to Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis, safety-net providers would play a crucial role in the healthcare of Americans as these institutions are vital to the continued healthcare of the uninsured. “They are better equipped to serve a sizeable number of non-elderly uninsured Americans (approximately 23 million by 2021),” agree Anthony Shih, MD, MPH, executive vice president for programs. His statement reflects the future planning of the Commonwealth Fund.

Plans Ahead

It is launching a national Safety Net Medical Home Initiative jointly with organizations viz., Colorado Health Foundation and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation of Pittsburgh among several others to help community health centers in five states to make them patient-centered medical homes. The cost for such a transition is estimated to be around million. It plans to provide technical assistance, training and support to Health centers in Colorado, Idaho, Massachusetts, Oregon and Pennsylvania to improve delivery of care according to a recent blog. Other steps envisaged are funding and support to help health centers make the most efficient use of existing health information technology and resources. With that Karen hopes to get primary care practices transformed into true medical homes providing the best care possible. In his view it is an investment made for the long-term health of these clinics which would also protect the model of care that is under planning. One needs to focus on actual patient care alongside advancements in the arena of Medical records, Healthcare technology and enterprising solutions which harp on the good health of the physicians.

Positive Results

According to Jonathan Sugarman, MD, the principal investigator and president and CEO of Qualis Health a Seattle based quality improvement organization, creative innovations by many of the participating community health centers and safety-net providers have yielded results in terms of quality and cost in patient-centered care. These organizations have been able to identify the gaps between the systems in practice and the best achievable performance. Perhaps the Kaiser Hospital is one such proven model where patients seemed to be satisfied with the medical care network prevailing therein and the quality of care made available to them.

It seems the time has come for others to follow suit.

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