Community health centers (CHCs) provide accessible, affordable healthcare to more than 30 million people in the U.S. These clinics are crucial for providing community-based healthcare, helping to improve population health, advance health equity, and increase patient access to both primary and preventative care.
Since annual federal funding is a lifeline for these centers, it is imperative they make the best use of every penny. To that end, now is the time to explore innovative avenues to enhance center operations and streamline labor to deliver optimum care. In this blog, we'll delve into the potential of patient engagement technology as an easy and effective option to improve CHC performance and make the most of funding dollars.
The Power of Patient Engagement Technology
CHCs often face unique challenges in delivering healthcare to underserved communities. Limited resources, cultural diversity, and varying socioeconomic factors can create barriers to effective care. Additionally, there is a constant struggle to provide comprehensive services with the allocated federal funding.
By strategically incorporating patient engagement technology such as patient portals, online scheduling, and digital patient intake, CHCs can address the unique challenges they face and maximize the impact of their federal funding. This not only improves the quality of care but also contributes to the long-term sustainability of these essential healthcare providers.
Here are just a few of the ways patient engagement technology can help:
Improved Access to Healthcare
Patient engagement technology is a critical tool that bridges the gap between healthcare providers and patients between in-person visits. For example, online portals and mobile apps enable patients to schedule appointments, access medical records, and receive timely reminders for upcoming appointments. This not only enhances the overall patient experience but also ensures that the available healthcare resources are utilized more efficiently.
Telehealth has further expanded access to care. Patients can connect with healthcare providers virtually, breaking down geographical barriers and ensuring that healthcare services are accessible to everyone, regardless of their location or access to reliable transportation. Next-generation telehealth solutions that integrate with your EHR provide an added benefit by replicating in-office workflows. These solutions not only allow staff members to schedule virtual visits the same way they do in-office appointments, but they also can mimic in-person visit workflows with virtual waiting rooms, nurse check-ins, and hand-off to providers.
Targeted Outreach and Education
Community health education is a crucial goal for many CHCs. Patient engagement platforms allow the dissemination of targeted health information with little to no administrative burden, With the click of a mouse, organizations can reach diverse communities with tailored content. This proactive approach helps encourage preventive care, potentially reducing the long-term burden on the healthcare system.
One of the biggest challenges to implementing proactive campaigns like this is the limited availability of staff resources to manage these efforts. Fortunately, the most advanced patient engagement technology can automate the vast majority of outreach efforts. With these solutions, staff can define specific patient populations based on demographics and diagnosis to create ‘set it and forget it’ campaigns that run in the background while they focus on patient-facing activities.
Effective communication is vital in healthcare, especially when dealing with underserved populations. Patient engagement technology facilitates secure messaging, telehealth consultations, and multilingual communication options. This ensures that patients can easily connect with healthcare providers, overcoming language and accessibility barriers.
Chronic Disease Management
Patients with chronic conditions require continuous monitoring and support. Patient engagement platforms offer tools for remote monitoring, medication adherence, and lifestyle management. By empowering patients to actively participate in their care, CHCs can achieve better health outcomes and reduce the overall cost of managing chronic diseases.
Streamlined Administrative Processes
Administrative efficiency is critical for CHCs facing budget constraints. Patient engagement technology automates appointment scheduling and administrative tasks, freeing up valuable time for healthcare professionals to focus on patient care. Not only does this optimization create a smoother patient journey which contributes to higher patient satisfaction, but it also contributes to cost-effectiveness and resource allocation.
The Added Benefit of Maximizing Quality Metrics
The amount of funding CHCs are eligible for is largely determined by certain quality metrics such as quality of care, health outcomes, and operational efficiency.
Patient engagement technology plays a pivotal role, driving improvements across each these dimensions. Actively engaging patients through technology elevates health outcomes, earning higher quality ratings. Streamlining administrative processes ensures cost-effectiveness, optimizing resource allocation. These positive metrics, in turn, strengthen the case for increased funding in the subsequent year.
Beyond the immediate impact on metrics, the time and resource savings facilitated by patient engagement technology present a dual benefit for CHCs. This shift not only enhances job satisfaction because staff can concentrate on care rather than administrative tasks, but also allows CHCs to focus on continuous improvement initiatives, further contributing to their overall operational efficiency.
Using CHC Funding for Patient Engagement Technology
As the end of the year approaches, CHCs who have yet to utilize all of their 2023 funding will need to make decisions quickly to avoid losing what’s left.
If you’re looking to get started with patient engagement technology, or level-up the technology you’re already using, now is the perfect time to take that step. Most grants have technology provisions that enable you to spend state or federally funded money on solutions that expand care quality.
It’s important to note that not all patient engagement technology is created equal, and some will be better at achieving your goals than others.
For over a decade, InteliChart’s Healthy Outcomes patient engagement platform has been helping CHCs facilitate better engagement among patients in underserved communities, leading to improved health outcomes.
Our platform has solutions that span the entire patient journey – from online scheduling, to a powerful patient portal, to automated population health campaigns – all powered by an API integration that facilitates the real-time transfer of information into your EHR.
Schedule a demo with InteliChart today and embark on a journey toward enhanced patient engagement, improved health outcomes, and optimized CHC funding.