Community-based health clinics that have formal partnerships with hospitals are more likely to get off-site diagnostic tests and follow-up care for their patients than clinics that are not linked to hospitals, a new study has found.
According to a Commonwealth Fund report titled “Enhancing the Capacity of Community Health Centers to Achieve High Performance
,” the nation’s community-based Federally Qualified Health Centers can coordinate better care for their patients if they have formal links to hospitals in their areas, among other recommendations to improve care at the clinics.
The report says that more than 1,000 health centers operate more than 6,000 community-based healthcare sites, which provide primary care to medically underserved populations regardless of ability to pay. Most of the 20 million patients seen in Federally Qualified Health Centers in 2010 will be low-income residents, ethnic minorities, uninsured or relying on public insurance, the report says.
The Commonwealth Fund survey of 795 of the centers found that while many clinics provide timely access to care on-site, their patients often have difficulty receiving more specialized care and information if the referring clinic lacked a partnership with a hospital, which was true regardless of the insurance status of the patient being referred.