Boston HealthNet (BHN) was established in 1995 to create an integrated health care delivery system among its members. This network quickly became a major focus of the public debate around Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s plans to merge its two hospital partners, Boston City Hospital and Boston University Medical Center Hospital. The creation of the Boston HealthNet as a partnership between the newly merged hospital, Boston Medical Center, and the health centers was often cited as an essential element in protecting the public mission of Boston City Hospital in the new merged institution. The network’s partners are Boston Medical Center (BMC), Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and 15 community health centers (CHCs). Boston HealthNet has become the largest community health care networks in Boston serving the city’s underserved and working class neighborhoods.
BHN is located on the BMC campus and has numerous ties to the hospital’s executive staff and resources. The impact of this relationship between the BHN health centers and BMC is seen in the number of initiatives and programs within the network. Sixteen BMC specialty departments provide an average of 105 sessions per week at the BHN CHCs. Additionally, the network’s Inpatient Rounder System brings together physicians from the health centers and the BMC Department of Family Medicine to care for patients from these sites while they are in the hospital, thereby, facilitating continuity of care.
Five of the BHN CHCs are also on the BMC license. A Joint Commission working group consisting of administrators from BMC and the BMC licensed health centers was formed to prepare these CHCs for the Joint Commission surveys and meets monthly. The Joint Commission working group has developed collaborations in laboratory medicine and infection control. All BMC licensed health center laboratories are now under the single direction of one Medical Director with the help of a Laboratory Outreach Coordinator, and infection control practitioners assist with the coordination of infection control at the hospital licensed health centers. Other key initiatives among the BHN CHCs and BMC include shuttle services from the health centers to BMC, residency training and group purchasing. In addition, BHN draws upon a variety of BMC’s IT resources, some of which are entirely dedicated to the network. These resources are essential to BHN’s IT portfolio, which focuses on a centrally hosted EHR and a broader health information exchange (HIE) to connect all the entities within the BHN network.
BHN CHCs serve a diverse population of patients. These centers are Codman Square Health Center, Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Geiger-Gibson Community Health Center, Greater Roslindale Medical and Dental Center, Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center, Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, Manet Community Health Center, Mattapan Community Health Center, Neponset Health Center, Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center, South Boston Community Health Center, South End Community Health Center, Upham's Corner Health Center and Whittier Street Health Center.