More than 1,100 Community Health Centers – also called Federally Qualified Health Centers, or FQHC – today provide affordable, comprehensive care to over 30 million children and adults across the United States. Since 1965, Community Health Centers have increased access to healthcare by reducing barriers like cost, coverage, distance, and language for their patients.
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced new challenges for FQHC. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, part of President Biden's "Build Back Better" agenda, allocated $7.6 billion to Community Health Centers to respond to COVID-19 through investments in testing, vaccinations, workforce, and infrastructure. Now, with the worst of the pandemic behind us, many who work with these centers have begun to wonder how to best address current healthcare needs among underserved populations.
As the world’s leading provider of diagnostic information services, Quest Diagnostics has a long history of working with FQHC to navigate evolving community needs. To uncover important insights needed to better serve FQHC and their patients, Quest surveyed FQHC leaders across the country on topics ranging from how care type usage has changed, and the top challenges health centers are facing today, to the state of health center engagement and the most critical capabilities needed when choosing collaborators.
The ensuing report therefore provides valuable insights directly from those at FQHC working to provide care. Its key findings include:
- The majority (52%) of FQHC cite staffing issues as their largest current challenge, and (63%) indicate that stabilizing these issues is their main priority.
- Rising demand for nontraditional care services is requiring health centers to significantly expand alternative care delivery: 81% of respondents reported a dramatic rise in the use of behavioral health services compared to prepandemic levels. Increasing demand for food bank programs (72%), social services like housing, education, employment, language translation, and childcare (67%), as well as care coordination (60%) were also notable.
- Operational and financial concerns persist as a challenge for FQHC, with half (50%) of all respondents citing this as a major concern.
These results illustrate just how committed FQHC are to the well-being of those who experience significant barriers to care. To fulfill the unmet needs of these populations, FQHC can work with collaborators like Quest to craft an approach that makes quality care more attainable while controlling costs and addressing key issues like staffing.
By working together to break down affordability barriers for medically underserved populations, Quest will use these results to support the health centers it serves as they provide comprehensive care that includes education, prevention, disease management and so much more.
For more information, and to download the full report, please visit www.QuestDiagnostics.com/2023HealthCenterReport.