UHP's electronic health record system recognized

Urban Health Plan Receives Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's (HIMSS) Prestigious Davies Award of Excellence

Urban Health Plan in the South Bronx is revolutionizing the way patients are identified and tracked at their network of community health centers. From identifying patients through an iris recognition scan to managing their patients' health through a fully electronic system, UHP is able to provide state-of-the-art, quality and comprehensive care to thousands of New York's neediest residents. This week, their efforts were recognized by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society who awarded them the 2009 HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence. Urban Health Plan uses eClinicalWorks (ECW) as its electronic health record (EHR) system.

The Davies Awards recognize health care organizations that implement health information technology, specifically electronic health records (EHR). Urban Health Plan received the Community Health Davies Award, which recognizes community health organizations that implemented EHR systems to serve underserved and vulnerable populations. UHP uses an integrated health care and practice management system to manage care for 31,000 patients at UHP's sites in the Bronx and Queens.

"We at Urban Health Plan are honored to receive the distinguished Davies Award," said Paloma Hernandez, President and CEO, Urban Health Plan, Inc. "Since 2006, when we successfully implemented our EHR system, we have been able to transform our health care delivery in how we treat our patients, track their health care outcomes and more importantly, continuously work towards improving the health of the communities we serve, namely the South Bronx and Corona, Queens. Our work will go a long way in aiding the elimination of health care disparities in these communities," she said.

"The recipients of the HIMSS Davies Award are leaders in EHR implementation as they prove that technology can be leveraged to produce value and achieve patient safety and quality outcomes with a positive return on investments," said David Collins, HIMSS director, healthcare information systems. "As the country moves closer to nationwide use of electronic health record, these healthcare leaders should be considered as valuable examples and resources for EHR success."

With an integrated practice management and EHR system, UHP's appointment scheduling and tracking has become more efficient. Providers are able to schedule appointments for their patients within the confines of their examination rooms. This allows for individual tailoring of appointments in terms of times and dates, which in turn leads to improved attendance or "show" rates to appointments. "No-show" reports are generated daily to improve care management, which helps in contacting "no-shows" to make new appointments, accommodating walk-in patients, and improving UHP's ability to construct provider schedules. Patient access has been enhanced because patients can receive care at any one of UHP's network of service sites since they are all connected to a single patient database. This assures that a patient's information will be available to all sites immediately.

The EHR system also has a systematic method of documenting communications with patients, assuring improved care coordination. One of UHP's unique features is the successful use of telephone case managers, whose sole function is to coordinate care by assuring that patients receive the necessary services. The use of UHP's EHR system greatly enhances the case managers' capability to perform their jobs. They can query the system by varying data elements that produce lists of patients meeting given criteria for proper follow up. They are then able to document the telephone conversation in the EHR and assign a note to the provider.

UHP's EHR system also gives the organization flexibility and allows for rapid response to emergencies. During the recent Swine Flu epidemic UHP was able to issue alerts and create clinical decision support templates on the same day that the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYCDOHMH) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued their alerts and clinical decision support. The next day all clinical staff were trained on the new protocols. In addition, because all data were created in a structured format, daily reports were run to monitor patients with suspected infection, providing for rapid follow-up, if needed.

UHP was the first federally qualified health center (FQHC) to implement ECW in the country. As a result, they were in the unique position to assist them in customizing their system to meet the demands of both New York State (NYS) and the federal government. These customizations included the design of their registry functionality, the integration of data for improved ease of reporting, the creation of sliding fee scales, and ultimately the billing enhancements to the practice management system to comply with all NYS requirements. Today, many New York City clinics use ECW.

The Davies awards were announced by HIMMS at a press conference at the House Triangle on Capitol Hill in Washington. The press conference coincides with National Health Information Technology (IT) Week.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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