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Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Alliance and its mission?

The Alliance is a group of community health centers working together "to share resources and integrate services to more efficiently and effectively deliver accessible, quality health care to the communities we serve."

Who are the Alliance's members?

The founding members of the Alliance are Erie Family Health Center, Heartland Health Outreach, Howard Brown Health Center, and Near North Health Service Corporation, all headquartered on Chicago's north side. Additional members are listed within the EHRS User Community section.The Alliance continues to attract new members as it progresses with its projects.

Who are the patients the Alliance serves?

Alliance members are health centers – often Safety Net organizations - serving primarily low-income and uninsured patients with multiple, complex needs.

What does Safety Net mean?

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) defines the safety net as "Those providers that organize and deliver a significant level of health care and other health-related services to uninsured, Medicaid, and other vulnerable patients" (Institute of Medicine, 2000). The IOM also recognized the concept of "core safety net providers…These providers have two distinguishing characteristics: (1) by legal mandate or explicitly adopted mission they maintain an "open door," offering access to services to patients regardless of their ability to pay; and (2) a substantial share of their patient mix is uninsured, Medicaid, and other vulnerable patients" (Institute of Medicine, 2000).

How many patients does the Alliance serve?

More than 600,000 clients with well over one million encounters annually.

How many sites does the Alliance have?

More than 25 sites and continually growing (including primary care related, mental health, substance abuse and dental facilities; women, infant and children offices; school-based clinics; soup kitchens; and homeless shelters).

How long has the Alliance existed?

Since 1997, when it received funding from the federal Bureau of Primary Health Care under the Integrated Services Development Initiative.

Is the Alliance a nonprofit 501c3 organization?

No, the Alliance is a Low-Profit Limited Liability Corporation (L3C) and is entirely owned by four 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations.

What is the governance structure of the Alliance?

The Alliance is a Low-Profit Limited Liability Corporation (L3C) governed by a Board of Managers that includes the Executive Director of each of the four member Centers, plus a Chief Executive Officer, Chief Medical Officer, and Chief Financial Officer.

Each of the member Centers is governed by a Board of Directors, comprised at least 51% by service users.

What is your staffing structure?

Network-level staff include the Chief Executive Officer, Chief Medical Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Information Officer, Director of Clinical Quality Improvement, and Director of Training and Education.

How is the Alliance funded?

The Alliance represents a joint investment by the participating Health Centers. It is supported through Health Center contributions; the Centers then have access to Alliance services at higher quality and lower cost than if they procured individually. The Alliance is also supported through grant funds and other initiatives.

What are the main health conditions that you focus on as a group?

Diabetes, depression, HIV, and smoking cessation. We expect to expand our scope as projects progress.

What are the main initiatives you focus on?

Clinical quality improvement, electronic health record system implementation, immunization registry creation, training and education, and development lab testing.

What is a federally qualified health center (FQHC)?

FQHCs are nonprofit community health centers that meet various standards and receive federal funding to serve the rising numbers of uninsured people nationwide. Three of the Alliance members are FQHCs and one is a "look-alike" (a separate but similar designation).

What is an electronic health record system (EHRS)?

The EHRS is a computerized version of the traditional, paper-based medical record. The EHRS fosters efficiency and enhances clinical quality improvement, thus enabling the Alliance and other community health centers to better serve their at-risk patients.

What is the Alliance’s affiliation with the Chicago Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (CHITREC)?

The Alliance, along with Northwestern University, is a founding partner of CHITREC. CHITREC is a public-private partnership that brings together leading healthcare and information technology experts from health care organizations, academia, industry, and government and is focused on providing resources to promote Meaningful Use of Health Information Technology. CHITREC is funded through the Health Information Technology Extension (HITECH) Program of the HITECH Act.