Where do you go to get primary health care? Increasingly, the answer to this question is not a traditional doctor’s office or hospital setting, but a Health Center. These community-based healthcare institutions serve populations with limited access to health care and are becoming an integral part of the healthcare landscape. According to the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), 1 out of 15 people living in the U.S. now relies on a HRSA-funded health center for primary care. This figure is likely to grow in light of the fact that health centers are slated to expand under the Affordable Care Act.
So what are the key components of a Health Center? According to HRSA, health centers fundamentally:
- Are located in or serving a high need community (designated Medically Underserved Area or Population);
- Are governed by a community board composed of a majority of health center patients that represent the population served;
- Provide comprehensive primary health care services as well as supportive services (education, translation and transportation, etc.) that promote access to health care;
- Provide services available to all with fees adjusted based on ability to pay;
- Meet other performance and accountability requirements regarding administrative, clinical, and financial operations.
Given the increasing significance of these institutions, we are excited to announce that we have updated the Community Health Centers and Look-Alikes point dataset on PolicyMap! Even more exciting is that this year we have expanded the available site information to incorporate health center patient demographics, services used, and a number of quality of care outcome indicators from HRSA’s Uniform Data System (UDS). The screen shots below show a sample of the information now available by health center site:
Two types of Health Centers are included in this dataset on PolicyMap. Some Health Centers are grant-supported Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), while others are not grant-supported, but still meet HRSA’s definition of a Health Center. Centers in the latter category are referred to as “Look-Alikes.” Looking at both FQHCs and Look-Alikes together is helpful when trying to get a sense of the full healthcare landscape in an area.
The map below shows the location of Community Health Centers and Look-Alikes in relation to HRSA-designated Medically Underserved Areas (MUAs) in Baltimore, MD. The Health Centers are filtered by the percent of patients served who are uninsured.
We are always interested in hearing from our users, so please don’t hesitate to email us at email@example.com with any comments on this dataset or ideas for others you would like to see!