About Us

The second week in August is National Health Center Week, dedicated to raising public awareness of community health centers and their mission to deliver affordable, accessible, high-quality care to underserved populations. Community health centers may be located in public housing and schools, as well as medical facilities. They provide first-line care to vulnerable populations, including migrants and the homeless. These centers are also a source of important clinical data that researchers can access to find out what works in a real-world setting.

We’d like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the research that PCORI funds to improve care for vulnerable patients in community settings and provide a structure and support for them to become key partners in the broader research enterprise.

Improving Healthcare Systems

Improving Healthcare Systems (IHS) is one of our five national priorities for research, and community health centers are an important focus of our IHS program. The program aims to increase patients’ access to health care and make that care safer, better coordinated, and more effective and efficient. In addition, our Addressing Disparities program promotes improved health care of vulnerable populations, regardless of the location of that care. We fund a wide variety of projects targeted at improving care for patients in community settings. These include:

  • A study at three Bronx community centers analyzing whether a collaborative care intervention, which addresses both depression and cancer screening needs, results in higher cancer screening rates among low-income, minority women, compared with the existing practice of increasing knowledge about cancer risks alone
  • A study, in partnership with a Los Angeles–area community clinic consortium, analyzing whether children with behavioral, developmental, and mental health needs have better outcomes when provided access to specialists via videoconferencing, compared with a typical specialist referral system
  • A study in Baltimore, Maryland, measuring the impact of patient representatives trained to contact young men who have HIV/AIDS to encourage adherence to their medication regimens and other self-care strategies
  • An Arizona study developing, delivering, and testing a personalized education program, including cervical cancer screening and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, for women recently enrolled in Medicaid

We also have a special interest in improving the integration of community health centers with traditional medical care providers to ensure that their clients have better access and improved care coordination for the full range of behavioral and clinical services.

Building Better Research Infrastructure

To facilitate more efficient comparative effectiveness research (CER) that could significantly increase the reliable information available to healthcare decision makers and the speed at which it is generated, PCORI has invested more than $100 million in the development of PCORnet, the National Patient-Centered Clinical Research Network. This large, highly representative national network will foster a range of observational and experimental CER by establishing a resource of clinical data gathered in real-world settings. Several of the data networks currently participating in PCORnet contain community health centers covering underserved, minority, and other vulnerable populations. These include:

These collaborations are a logical fit for PCORnet because community health centers recognize the need to identify ways to more efficiently and effectively deliver accessible, high-quality health care to their communities. And better research is a pathway to better care. Health Center Week gives community health centers the opportunity to celebrate their long record of successes in delivering care and to build support for future activity.

What's Happening at PCORI?

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute sends weekly emails highlighting results of our funded studies, newly funded research and engagement awards, opportunities to apply for funding, stakeholder workshops, and original feature stories about our funded projects.

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