Incubators of Innovation: Our Nation's Community Health Centers

8-8-16 Feature Story:

One of the most effective primary care provider networks in America's healthcare system, community health centers started over 50 years ago right here in Massachusetts as a pilot project during President Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty. Today, over 1,300 health centers across the country have a significant record of success:

  • Producing $24 billion in annual health system savings
  • Reducing unnecessary hospitalizations and unnecessary visits to the emergency room
  • Treating patients for a fraction of the average cost of one emergency room visit
  • Maintaining patient satisfaction levels of nearly 100 percent
  • Generating $26.5 billion in economic activity and over 230,000 jobs
  • Reducing infant mortality rates

In Massachusetts, 50 community health center organizations:

  • Serve 951,000 patients (that's one in seven state residents) through more than 300 sites
  • Generate 14,000 jobs and contribute $2 billion in total statewide output
  • Produce $1.2 billion in annual savings for the state's health system
  • Surpass national benchmarks for a host of clinical quality measures, including those focused on asthma, hypertension, healthy birthweights for newborns and immunizations

Massachusetts community health centers prevent illness and foster wellness in unique populations, producing innovative solutions to the most pressing healthcare issues in our communities. From providing some of the nation's first HIV services, to pioneering models of care for patients suffering with chronic illness, to expanding dental coverage for millions of underserved residents, Massachusetts health centers continue to meet the never-ending challenge of providing access to care for people who, without community health centers, might not have it.

Community health centers have the unique ability to reach beyond the walls of conventional medicine and address the social factors that may cause and perpetuate sickness, such as lack of nutrition, mental illness, homelessness and addiction. Our long record of success in managing healthcare costs and reducing chronic disease are due to our understanding of the true needs of our patients and our communities at large.

As we celebrate National Health Center Week, community health centers across the Commonwealth will be hosting health fairs, back-to-school drives, legislative breakfasts, free health screenings and dental cleanings, and much more.

To learn more about NHCW and the listing of events please visit:

You can also follow the conversation using #NHCW16 or #CHCsInnovate on Twitter.


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