Community Health Centers (CHCs) operate in more than 8,000 locations in the United States, addressing a widespread lack of access to basic health care for more than 23 million patients, providing 25 percent of all primary care visits for low-income residents.
Since 1971, the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) has worked to promote the availability of quality, comprehensive and affordable health care for medically underserved populations – a mission that aligns with IBM’s efforts to help establish a model system with a “medical home.”
“I can’t think of a better partnership than one between IBM and Community Health Centers,” says Kyu Rhee, IBM Chief Health Director. “With the combination of high quality and low cost for high-need and high-risk populations, community health centers represent the best of what the U.S. healthcare system has to offer, an achievable and realistic vision of smarter healthcare within a smarter planet.”
Building a community of healthcare providers
IBM has awarded a Centennial Grant to the National Association of Community Health Centers, to help it establish an institute to support community health centers in their transformation to Patient-Centered Medical Homes. The Centennial Grant funding will be used to build a single knowledge management platform for all CHCs nationally, enabling them to share ideas and lessons, learn from each other, exchange best practices, and work together to establish Patient-Centered Medical Homes.
IBM volunteers will lend their time and skills to the project, as they have for years in local CHCs, serving as members on boards of directors, helping build tools and technology to help doctors communicate more effectively with patients and each other, and doing things as simple as reading to children in waiting rooms.
Starting in September 2011, an IBM implementation team will build a knowledge management system, including software, system procurement, maintenance and a project management team. The knowledge management system will be live in 12 months, interconnecting the community health centers. The project will show what can be achieved when healthcare providers are instrumented, interconnected and intelligent, and holds promise to become a model component of national healthcare system reform.
“This is part of a much bigger plan. IBM has been deeply engaged across the corporation, positively impacting the level of care,” says Paul Grundy, IBM Global Director of Healthcare Transformation. “For the past five years, we’ve led a coalition driving much more profound care – the Patient-Centered Medical Home. IBM is really seen as the founder of this movement.” In 2007, IBM formed the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (http://www.pcpcc.net/) with several national healthcare entities, to work to create a more effective and efficient model of healthcare delivery.
IBM’s work with CHCs is a national, and potentially worldwide, solution in healthcare, and this Centennial Grant-funded project could revolutionize healthcare for the 8,000 CHCs serving some of our most vulnerable neighbors.
“I am amazed to see the incredible work that IBM employees do in catalyzing innovation that matters for our company and the world,” says Kyu. “I feel lucky and fortunate to help community health centers learn more about IBM and what we can provide. Similarly, I am excited to show our employees how much of a difference they can make in their communities through community health centers.”
IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.