Access to Specialty Care in Federally Qualified Health Centers

Access to Specialty Care in Federally Qualified Health Centers Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) provide access to primary care for medically underserved populations including those that are uninsured or covered by Medicaid. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, FQHCs that received federal grant funding served 18.8 million individuals in 2009. While there is an emphasis on comprehensive, coordinated care, patients at FQHCs often face challenges accessing specialty care due to insurance status, inefficient referral systems, or long wait times.

The featured Innovations describe three programs that improved access to specialty care in federally qualified health centers. These programs include an electronic consultation system that reduced wait times and unnecessary specialty referrals; a formalized referral process that used information technology to enhance access to specialty care; and a telemedicine program that provided retinopathy screening to patients with diabetes served by FQHCs.

The featured QualityTools include a business planning guide and toolkit designed to assist community clinics and health centers in developing networks to share specialty services, and a guide for developing a remote diabetic retinopathy screening program.

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