Friday, April 26, 2013

Partners announces grants for community health centers

Patient Affordability is one of three pillars of Partners’ Strategic Initiative, along with care redesign and reputation and communications. By improving efficiency and removing costs from the system, Partners is taking important steps to help make health care more affordable. At the same time, Partners’ new affiliation with Neighborhood Health Plan has similar aims: care coordination, cost-effectiveness, and community-based, accessible care for the underserved.

Partners HealthCare has teamed with the Neighborhood Health Plan and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers to provide grants to community health centers across the state through the new “Partnership for Community Health” initiative, which aims to help the centers transform the way care is delivered and adapted to state and national reforms.

“Community health centers are, in many ways, the original patient-centered medical homes,” said Partners President and CEO Gary Gottlieb, MD. “We are committed to helping health centers do what they do best – provide accessible, high-quality primary and preventive care in the most efficient and cost-effective setting.”

Over the next 15 years, the “Partnership for Community Health” will provide up to $90 million in grant funding to help community health centers develop and launch measurable programs that enhance health outcomes, service, efficiencies and quality of care. Grants are awarded in four categories focused on expanding programs and improving the center’s infrastructure: health information technology reporting, meaningful-use training, medical coding training, and training and capacity-building for performance improvement.

The first round of grants, totaling $4.25 million, benefit 49 community health centers in the state –
including the MGH Community Health Associates and the MGH health centers. Eileen Manning, executive director of MGH Community Health Associates, said the funds will help the organization further reduce health disparities by improving access to care through increased use of the MGH patient portal. Patients will be able to access new user-friendly computer kiosks in the waiting areas that will provide increased knowledge and comfort to those who have little or no previous computer knowledge or are hesitant to use computers.

 “Additionally we will work with a consultant to develop a handbook of low-literacy and educational materials on how to access and navigate the portal successfully,” Manning said. “This project is important in meeting goals for meaningful use and for Patient- Centered Medical Home as well.  A significant part of what the health centers do is to provide care in a way that reduces the health disparities that exist in the communities we serve. This project will greatly enhance that mission.” 

Read more articles from the 04/26/13 Hotline issue.

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