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EHR for Community Health Centers: Adoption Barriers & Implementation Strategies

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Community health centers and federally qualified health centers (FQHC) serve more than 20 million patients each year, according to data from HHS’ Health Resources and Services Administration. They provide medical care to uninsured and underinsured populations, to patients who rely on public health programs for assistance, and to those living in medically underserved parts of the country. These health centers are integral to the nation’s healthcare system, yet they often lack the resources to adopt new technologies that can improve care quality and patient safety, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.

Electronic medical record software is one technology that can help FQHCs further their commitment to providing high-quality patient care. An EMR for community health centers can make it easier to integrate clinical, financial and administrative information; it can help improve health outcomes; and it can facilitate administrative processes. Despite this, health centers are slower to adopt EMR systems than other providers.

Barriers to Adoption

There are several reasons why health centers lag behind other organizations in adopting EMR systems. Some of the factors providers cite most include:

• A lack of funds
• Concerns about loss of productivity or income
• Inability to integrate the EMR with the center’s billing system
• Software does not meet the center’s reporting needs

Implementation Strategies

Despite these roadblocks, it is possible for community health centers to purchase and implement an EMR – and many more are doing so. In order to prepare for implementation, health centers should first ask themselves why they need an EMR and whether their organization is ready for one. They should then conduct extensive research into costs, EMR requirements, preparation time, and whether to seek outside help for the implementation process.

The next step is selecting an EMR and making sure that it meets the health center’s needs. This should be done after the organization has identified the functions that are crucial to their center and the software systems that will need to interface with their new EMR.

Health IT consultants can be beneficial for the installation and initial setup phase, and many technicians may even work for a reduced fee in order to accommodate the health center’s budget. Physician can look for IT technicians working with Regional Extension Centers, in addition to federal grants and funding that can assist with the adoption of an EMR.

IMS EMR for Community Health Centers

Due to our unique approach to EMR software for FQCHs, providers working a health centers nationwide are able to improve care delivery and make a significant difference in the lives of their patients. Our EMR solution is cost-effective, easy to learn and use, and designed specifically with community health centers in mind. In fact, community health centers that use our EMR achieve improvements in patient care through:

• Real-time access to patient information
• Better care coordination across multiple sites
• Improved chronic disease and medication management
• Enhanced quality assurance
• Health information exchange capabilities

Interested in learning more about our EMR for community health centers and FQHCs? Contact us online or call 480-782-1116 to request more information.