Health center networks were established to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health centers. The formation of networks enabled groups of health centers to collaborate, share, and/or integrate functions that were critical to health center operations (e.g., clinical, fiscal, information management, managed care, human resources, etc.). Through their collective efforts, health centers were often able to accomplish performance improvements that would have been cost prohibitive if attempted on their own. Over the years, health center networks have evolved and expanded their core functions and service offerings. The end result being that these networks have continued to provide the infrastructure that enables individual health centers to continue to focus on their mission.
The formation of a network can occur in a variety of ways. Networks are typically composed of health centers, but may include additional entities, such as local public health departments and other safety-net providers. These members may be concentrated within a single state, or span multiple states and regions of the country. The reasons for establishing a collaborative partnership may also vary as networks build capacity according to the particular demands of their members.
Two primary categories of networks are defined below.
Health Center Controlled Network (HCCN). HRSA has long supported collaboration through funding opportunities and assistance targeted to multiple health center consortia. In recent years, HRSA implemented a formal designation of some entities as Health Center Controlled Networks or HCCNs. The HRSA definition of a HCCN is “a network controlled by and acting on behalf of the health centers, as defined and funded under Section 330(e)(1)(C) of the Public Health Service Act, as amended.” The term “controlled” means that health centers are required to collectively appoint a minimum of 51 percent of the network’s board members. The HRSA HCCN designation is reserved for organizations that involves a minimum of 10 individual health centers.
Primary Care Association (PCA). Primary Care Associations can operate on a state or regional level and are private, nonprofit organizations that provide advocacy, training and technical assistance to health centers and other safety-net providers; support the development of health centers in their state; and enhance the operations and performance of health centers. PCAs have partnered with health centers to form health center control networks within their states and/or regions. Also, PCA that don’t have networks work in concern with established networks within their state and/or region.
Supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
This project was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under cooperative agreement U30CS16089, Technical Assistance to Community and Migrant Health Centers and Homeless for $6,375,000.00 with 0% of the total NCA project financed with non-federal sources. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.