Community Health Centers and the Patient-Centered Medical Home: Challenges and Opportunities to Reduce Health Care Disparities in America
- Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 23, Number 3, August 2012
- pp. 949-957
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Health care disparities pose an ongoing challenge to the nation. The patient-centered medical home (PCMH) model presents a unique opportunity for community health centers (CHCs) to improve the health of medically underserved communities and reduce health care disparities. Community health centers face ongoing financial and operational challenges, but are well positioned to adopt the PCMH. Health centers have experience collaborating on quality improvement initiatives and possess a strong organizational structure. The culture of CHCs emphasizes cultural competence, team work, and patient-centrism, and is well-aligned with the PCMH model. However, CHCs need more support to make fundamental changes in processes and practice culture. Many of these changes require substantial redesigns that can challenge even the most innovative practices. State and federal policy should focus on providing training, guidance, and payment mechanisms that support PCMH. Taking these steps, the U.S. can achieve the goal that every American receives patient-centered care that is equitable, affordable, and effective.