CHCANYS Releases a New Statewide Plan for Expanding Sustainable Community Health Centers in New York and Increasing their Capacity to Serve More Patients
The Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS), with support from the New York State Health Foundation, has developed a statewide plan for community health centers to increase their ability to serve more patients. Based on extensive quantitative and qualitative analyses, the plan identifies geographic areas that have the greatest need and potential for sustainable growth, estimates potential increases in capacity within the existing system, and highlights strategies for creating more capacity.
The plan highlights opportunities to significantly increase capacity. Specifically, the report estimates that New York State’s federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) could provide more than 1.8 million additional visits and serve hundreds of thousands more patients each year by filling existing provider vacancies and enhancing productivity. Additional capacity could be gained by adding new FQHCs to existing “primary care deserts” and expanding FQHCs to areas of high need and potential for sustainability.
The new report identifies opportunities across four domains to expand FQHCs’ capacity:
Development of high-performing community-based primary care. Primary care providers should implement practice redesign strategies that decrease patients’ waiting times; reduce patient no shows; maximize productivity and patient volume; and eliminate waste in their systems. Primary care providers also need support to implement team-based care, enhance their health information technology (HIT) capabilities, and expand the use of telemedicine.
Primary care workforce recruitment and retention. Primary care providers must be able to recruit, train, and retain a workforce that is stable and well qualified to serve low-income patients. Filling vacant positions is an immediate means to expand the capacity of providers to see more patients while implementing longer-term strategies to “grow their own” providers.
Access to affordable capital. Capital funds and capital project assistance are needed to help providers build new sites, expand existing sites, purchase health information technology, renovate outdated facilities, and increase patient access through the use of telemedicine and mobile medical vans.
Community-level planning. Additional, ongoing planning efforts at the community level will need to complement regional planning efforts and support the development of expansion plans that are feasible and sustainable.
This plan comes at a critical time. Federal and State health reforms require expanded primary care capacity to care for the influx of newly insured patients and ensure a strong safety net for those who remain uninsured. In New York State, FQHCs are expected to double capacity to serve nearly 3 million New Yorkers by 2015.