Partnerships between Mobile Integrated Healthcare-community paramedicine (MIH-CP) and Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers (FQHCs) can benefit both parties. We’ve discussed partnerships with law enforcement, partnerships with fire departments, and hospitals, but now we will talk about MIH-CP programs and the advantages of a partnership with an FQHC.
MIH-CP and Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers share a similar vision: help people with low access to healthcare and shore up the cracks in the national healthcare system. In addition, MIH-CP has a unique reach in rural and underserved healthcare communities, giving them a good vantage point to aid FQHCs.
Don’t worry if you’re unfamiliar with some of these programs. In the following sections, we’ll talk about the goals of FQHCs, what they are, and how it’s worth considering future partnerships between Mobile Integrated Healthcare-community paramedicine and Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers.
What is a Federal Qualified Healthcare Center and How Do They Relate to MIH-CP?
Before we risk leaving anyone behind, let’s talk about what a federally qualified healthcare center is and how they operate around the country.
At an elementary level, a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center is a healthcare clinic that receives government support to meet the needs of underserved communities. Of course, this is a boiled-down definition, but it captures the essence of the program.
FQHCs are healthcare centers that meet specific criteria and must apply to become part of the program. As the name implies, these programs are part of a national initiative that usually focuses on serving rural or underserved populations. In addition, these centers are often known as community health programs.
To understand how mobile community paramedicine can benefit from partnering with FQHCs, we need to understand a little bit about how these health centers are funded. So first, let’s look at what kind of federal support they receive and the services they offer.
How are FQHCs Funded?
FQHCs accept payments on a sliding scale, meaning they are cost-efficient for the patients. They receive funding as they receive reimbursement through Medicare and Medicaid. They are also usually recipients of a grant, often known as the 330 Grant. This grant stipulates how many patients the clinic needs to reach, incentivizing the program to stay active in the community.
Only some healthcare institutions can become an FQHC. In addition, there are specific requirements about who is and is not eligible to become one of these health centers and receive funding. If you’d like to view a complete list of these requirements, here’s a link to the website with FQHC requirements.
As an overview, healthcare centers that qualify are usually independent, which means they have no connection to a hospital or larger health system. Now that we know a little about the mission of the FQHC and how they are sustained, let’s look at the services they provide.
The Services of FQHCs and Community Health Clinics
There are several focuses of most FQHCs, and most are geared toward meeting the overall health needs of underserved populations. These patients could be in a rural or urban setting. The goal is to get healthcare to them.
First, there is a focus on primary health care. This is always a need, and it isn’t going away. These centers even incentivize medical practitioners, giving them liability protection and substantial benefits.
Second, there is a focus on dental care, with some clinics working to provide strong oral health to underserved patients.
Finally, they focus on mental health care and substance use interventions. These programs work with the community to help those most vulnerable patients, who often become part of a negative spiral.
It’s necessary to have a foundational understanding of how FQHCs operate and what they are all about. But now, let’s look at how MIH-CP fits in and how these two health models can work together to reach a common goal.
4 Benefits of Partnership between Mobile Integrated Healthcare and Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers
At its core, mobile-integrated healthcare can help FQHCs because they share similar missions. However, this service does not go unnoticed. By partnering with these institutions, community paramedic programs can further their goals, leading to better funding in the future.
Here are some of the benefits of MIH-CP partnership with FQHCs:
- A shared vision
- Clinical help and expertise
- Build momentum and reputation
- More access to patients for both sides
Below, we examine these benefits further.
FQHCs and MIH-CP Have a Shared Vision
Sometimes, MIH-CP programs struggle to find a clinic to partner with them. Frankly, some primary care clinics are not interested in reaching out to more patients in the community or don’t have the resources. This is not for a lack of altruism. It’s merely that some clinics are already busy with their patients, and their goals need to align with further outreach.
Thankfully, Community Health Clinics (aka, FQHCs) are always looking to reach vulnerable patient groups. This means that MIH-CP programs are more likely to find FQHCs to be enthusiastic partners who will stick with them for the long haul.
Help for Challenging MIH-CP Patients
Most of the time, MIH-CP programs were implemented to help guide a negative trend in a better direction. This could mean correcting substance abuse, reducing frequent 911 calls, or improving the mental health response.
However, even a strong community paramedic program will struggle to correct negative patterns on its own – a mobile health program needs partners, preferably partners who are experts in their field. Mobile integrated healthcare programs should be open to partnering with anyone, but that doesn’t mean all partners will offer the same value.
Indeed, there can be an odd paradox in the mobile integrated healthcare community. Instead of feeling like the program is correcting anything, it can feel like the “problem” was just transferred to a different area. So, for example, instead of the ambulance responding to the super utilizer, the community paramedic responds – but don’t we want to reduce the overall super utilization? It’s a fair question.
That’s where the partnership with the FQHC comes in. These clinics focus on the same issues as the community paramedic, hopefully leading to problems being corrected instead of being moved to a different unit.
Partnerships between Mobile Integrated Healthcare and Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers Can Build MIH-CP Momentum
Mobile integrated healthcare is still a budding health model. It’s showing great promise and has enjoyed massive success in many areas; however, state and federal reimbursement models have been slow to catch up and adopt new policies – this leaves many strong MIH-CP programs struggling to find steady revenue.
The more momentum MIH-CP can build, the better the chance for more sweeping changes to MIH-CP and EMS funding. States like Minnesota have been ahead of the curve in this respect, but more states need to catch on and build a sustainable operational pathway for mobile-integrated healthcare.
Building connections with FQHCs can help community paramedicine as it continues to work to gain better recognition and more sustainable funding. So now, let’s flip things around and talk about why an FHQC will be interested in working with MIH-CP.
MIH-CP Could Give FQHCs More Reach
Regarding grants and funding, the water can be a little murky – every organization receives funding in slightly different ways, and each will have unique pathways to sustainability.
However, one thing is for sure. Many FHQCs have requirements surrounding the number of patients they need to see to remain eligible for grants. Sometimes, there is even a requirement to grow and find new patients.
This is where the needs of the FHQCs and the ability of the MIH-CP program overlap, potentially creating a truly symbiotic relationship. For example, the MIH-CP program could refer the patient to the community health clinic, helping them to meet their needs regarding patient outreach.
On the other hand, the FHQC provides the community paramedic program with a committed partner dedicated to fighting the same community battles.
Let’s talk about how to build a connection between MIH-CP and FQHCs.
How Can Mobile Integrated Healthcare Programs Form Partnerships with Federally Qualified Healthcare Centers?
To form a partnership with an FQHC, the community paramedic program should take several steps.
- First, ensure that your missions and expertise have some overlap. This shouldn’t be difficult, but there are some cases where FQHCs might be focused on something more distant, such as dental care. In this case, a partnership with mobile integrated care might not be as prosperous. With that said, many community clinics are focused on the same things – substance abuse, mental health, and chronic condition management.
- Second, see if there are any programs in your area. You can use a health center finder tool to locate the FQHCs in your area. These services don’t always have a high profile. Who knows, there could be several clinics you were unaware of operating nearby.
- Finally, reach out and make a connection. Try to schedule a meeting with the managers of the clinic. If you can meet with them, this is a great time to listen to their needs and discuss a potential partnership.
Once you’ve made a connection, you want communication and collaboration to be a breeze. That’s where Julota comes in, offering a secure cloud-based platform for collaboration.
Contact Julota for more information on how their software tools can help mobile health programs form connections and reduce headaches during collaborations.