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Patient Reports of the Quality of Care in Community Health Centers: The Importance of Having a Regular Provider


Objective. To examine the importance of having a regular provider in community health centers (CHCs) for high quality care. Methods. Analyses of a national survey—the Commonwealth Fund 2006 Health care Quality Survey—among patients with a private doctor's (PMD) office (n=1,743) or CHC (n=275) as their regular source of care. Outcomes include prevention measures, and measures of patient experience. Results. Patients at CHCs are less likely than patients who use a PMD to report having a regular doctor (53% vs. 95%, p≤.001). They also report lower rates for all the preventive care and patient experience measures. However, the differences in quality are eliminated when CHC patients have a regular provider. Conclusions. When CHC patients have a regular provider, they receive higher quality care. Policymakers should support expansions of the CHC health care workforce to ensure patients have access to a regular provider, which leads to higher quality care.