Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Connecting More CHCs

The Technology, Health, and Quality (THQLink) was launched last week by the National Association of Community Health Centers (CHC) in partnership with Health Center Controlled Networks (HCCN). The three HCCNs include Health Choice Network of Florida, OCHIN of Oregon, and the Alliance of Chicago.

The partners built THQLink as an infrastructure to enable the Networks along with other safety-net participants to share resources by jointly deploying state-of-the-art health IT. Their objective is to support the efficient and effective use of health IT to achieve “Patient Centered Medical Home” recognition. Also the plan is to implement a robust data aggregation and analytics platform to measure outcomes, share best practices, and improve population health.

Community Health Centers need to address how to deliver healthcare, measure outcomes, and how to effectively share data, but the thinking today is that CHCs also need to address social and economic conditions in the community. In order for the CHCs do this, updating health IT is required to not only effectively deliver health and medical information but also for the CHCs to help communities with other issues such as employment, education, and help to provide social support in the community.

In researching this need, the Institute for Alternative Futures released the study “Community Health Centers Leveraging the Social Determinants of Health” available online at The study discusses how Community Health Centers (CHC) reach beyond clinical care to shape the health of their patients by changing community conditions and performing non-clinical work.

The IAF report describes the patterns across many initiatives and details the recommendations developed at a national workshop of community and public health leaders on how to support and expand these actions.

Some of the recommendations include establishing partnerships and collaborations as a critical need. For example, HRSA should leverage Social Determinants of Health (SDH) in a collaborative setting where CHCs could share information on their success in treating patients with chronic diseases. Patients could create story boards and registries to broadcast and report on how and what information was exchanged to help achieve success.

Also, HRSA’s Bureau of Primary Health Care should make it easier for CHCs to report the nature and the scope of their SDH efforts to the Uniform Data System and to the Electronic Handbook.

Another recommendation wants to see HRSA form and lead a formal interagency group to promote advances and support efforts addressing the SDH within communities. The report recommends that the Federal Interagency Health Equity team and the National Prevention Council work with the National Partnership for Action to end health disparities. Agencies that need to partnership in one way or another include USDA, Department of Commerce, DOD, ED, EPA, HUD, DOJ, DOL, DOT, VA, HHS and the U.S Consumer Product Safety Commission.

In studying the SDH issues in communities, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation sponsored a poll and found that while most physicians recognize the importance of working with the patient’s community and social conditions, they are still unsure how they should specifically address the societal needs and issues.

To help study and meet SDH needs, the RWJF Community Grants program is in place to address economic and social issues supporting system changes in communities. The RWJF Community Grant program not only sees the need to address employment issues and education, but also realizes that family and social support needs to be addressed in communities.

The Grantees involved in this program are organizations participating in established coalitions or networks spanning multiple sectors and include representatives from business, education, public health, healthcare, community organizations, policy advocates, and foundations.

The RWJF Community Grants program has recently announced up to 20 grants in 2012 will be awarded with grantees receiving awards up to $200,000 each for up to 24 months to use to implement their proposed policy or system change strategy. Non-profit organizations, tribal groups, or state and local agencies are eligible to apply.

An applicant conference call was held March 20th with another applicant conference call scheduled for April 10, 2012. May 2, 2012 is the deadline for brief proposals and July 25, 2012 is the deadline for full proposals.

Go to to view more information. For inquiries email Alexis Brimage-Major, at or call 617-275-2865.