Integrating Community Health Centers Into Organized Delivery Systems Can Improve Access to Subspecialty Care

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is funding the expansion of community health centers to increase access to primary care, but this approach will not ensure effective access to subspecialty services. To address this issue, the researchers interviewed directors of 20 community health centers. The analysis of their responses led them to identify six unique models of how community health centers access subspecialty care, which they called Tin Cup, Hospital Partnership, Buy Your Own Subspecialists, Telehealth, Teaching Community, and Integrated System.

The researchers determined that the Integrated System model appears to provide the most comprehensive and cohesive access to subspecialty care. Because Medicaid accountable care organizations encourage integrated delivery of care, they offer a promising policy solution to improve the integration of community health centers into “medical neighborhoods.”