It’s well known that FQHCs have a patient base that’s 20% uninsured.
But no one talks about the fact that 20% of FQHC patients have private insurance, a number that has grown in recent years.
Maybe the growth in private pay consumers is happening because FQHCs outperform private practice physicians on many quality-of-care criteria.
The FQHC success story doesn’t stop there. In-school FQHC healthcare is helping children live healthier lives. FQHC dentistry prevents catastrophic oral health neglect with regular care.
And FQHCs are merging behavioral health into mainstream medical practice every day (thanks in large part to Telehealth).
Yet FQHCs continue to be referred to as “the safety net” – the care provider of last resort. FQHCs can do better.
3 ways of rethinking the FQHC identity
The “safety net” label will not go away overnight. Nor will the “free clinic” moniker, or the “poor person’s health clinic.”
Nevertheless, FQHCs need to rethink their market position and gradually shift perceptions by providing a consistent, alternative narrative about their identity.
Option 1. Elevate the “Patient Centered Medical Home” (PCMH)
In our experience, the value and benefits of the PCMH model have not been well explained.
FQHCs can revitalize the relevance of this identity with a new PCMH message based on these pillars:
- A permanent place for care that can be trusted.
- Premium, coordinated care based on a team model
- A lifetime of optimal health
Option 2. “Advanced Primary Care”
There’s a growing consensus that primary care must expand and improve to attain better outcomes at lower costs.
Yet primary care is still misunderstood by consumers – and the US spends 50% less on primary care than any other developed nation. Some states (like Maryland) are slowly re-engineering healthcare delivery based on the role of primary care.
While the rest of the nation pivots toward a new understanding of the place, value, and role of primary care, we think FQHCs are ideally positioned to “own” the primary care label and represent each FQHC as a network of connected primary care services.
Finally, in case we’ve all forgotten, in 2011 CMS produced a 3-year study to determine if FQHCs could transform into “Advanced Primary Care Practices,” with elevated standards of care and performance. Its conclusion was, in a word, positive. It’s time to act on it.
Option 3. “American Health Centers”
NASA, the CDC, the FBI, and even FEMA have crafted identities around their brand. Why not FQHCs?
One way to start is by getting rid of “federally qualified” as market-facing language and rebadge FQHCs for what they really are: Our nation’s approach to healthcare delivery for all – American Health Centers.
Branding is not just for Fortune 500 firms. It’s also for government-supported organizations. And it’s worth mentioning that developing such a brand identity is also important for attracting talented employees.
FQHCs, you need and deserve a makeover.
Take 15 minutes.
Have a cup of coffee with us.
Let’s talk about your FQHC’s position.