EHR Selection Toolkit for Community Health Centers

Safety-net clinics must take federal and state licensure and funding requirements into account when selecting EHR systems. This toolkit will help clinics discuss their practice management and electronic medical record requirements with vendors.

October 2007

California's safety-net clinics provide a broad array of services to low-income and medically underserved people regardless of a patient's ability to pay. Electronic health records (EHRs) can improve both quality of care and efficiency, but clinics must navigate licensure and reporting requirements when selecting an EHR system.

Safety-net clinics in California include an array of categories: federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), FQHC lookalikes, public clinics, private nonprofit clinics, rural health clinics, free clinics, and others. Each type of clinic has different needs for federal and state licensure and funding. In addition, the reporting requirements of government entities and grant funders, as well as the diverse composition of the populations these clinics serve, pose unique challenges for practice management and electronic medical record systems, collectively referred to as electronic health records (EHRs).

This toolkit describes the differences between commercial and community health centers (CHCs). Based on this description, Worksheet A provides a list of functional criteria to review with EHR vendors to ensure that the unique needs of CHCs are met.

In addition, Uniform Data Set (UDS) reporting is a requirement for FQHCs and can present substantial complexity. Current data format and reporting requirements can be found in Worksheet B.

The complete toolkit is available as a PDF under Document Downloads. In addition, the worksheets are provided in Excel format for electronic use.