To Switch or Not to Switch: A Guide for Community Clinics Considering Changing EHRs

Walter Sujansky, Sujansky & Associates


Community Health Centers and EHRs

Community health centers (CHCs)1 are a critical part of California’s health care delivery system for the medically underserved. Statewide, 175 CHC organizations operate 1,400 clinic sites that provide primary medical, dental, vision, and behavioral health care to more than four million Californians, of which about 85% are Medicaid beneficiaries or are uninsured. Electronic health record systems (EHRs) are important tools used by about 90% of California’s CHCs to provide care, receive payment, and manage patient populations.

Changing Requirements

Shifts in the health care landscape are changing clinical and operational requirements for many clinics. At the same time, there is growing recognition of the complexity and cost of managing an EHR that fulfills these requirements. Further, as CHCs adopt value-based payment models with payers, improved EHR and data management for care coordination and population health management has the potential to increase revenues, reduce costs, and improve CHCs’ overall financial standing.

In this environment, CHCs may reassess their needs and goals to decide whether a different product and/or a different model for EHR management might better serve them.

A Guide to Help with Decisionmaking

The purpose of this guide is to help CHC leaders weigh the costs and benefits of remaining with their current EHR (possibly with enhanced functionality) or switching to a different one. It is intended to be useful to all those participating in decisions about EHRs, not just to technical experts. The guide offers a stepwise approach to asking important questions, making decisions, and moving forward.

Notes

  1. CHCs include Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), FQHC Look-Alikes, and other health center program grantees.