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Health Disparities Collaborative

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The Health Disparities Collaborative is one of the most important health initiatives undertaken in the history of community health centers. Launched by the Bureau of Primary Health Care in 1999, the initiative was driven by two needs in America 's health system: eliminating health disparities among medically underserved populations and increasing access to health care for all. To address these needs, the focus of the Health Disparities Collaborative is to improve the quality of care to people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and depression. Quality care is care that is safe, effective, timely, patient/family-centered and results in optimal health for all.

By joining a Health Disparities Collaborative, community health center teams learn how to redesign all aspects of their health care system through the use of the Care Model to improve clinical outcomes in patients with chronic disease. The Care Model is a blueprint for improvement using a systems approach that incorporates six key components of the health care system:   Community, Health Care Organization, Self-Management, Delivery System Design, Decision Support and Clinical Information Systems. The model emphasizes a productive patient/provider interaction to help the patient engage in his or her health management. Provider care is standardized and driven by evidence-based clinical guidelines. Disease registries are computer-based and provide an up-to-date source of patient and population clinical data. Health centers are encouraged to partner with community organizations to leverage health programs and resources for patients. These improvements have led to improved blood pressure control, appropriate use of drugs for asthma patients, improved symptoms in depression, and increases in patient self management and provider follow-up in health centers across the nation. For more information on the Health Disparities Collaboratives, visit the national website at www.healthdisparities.net .