Wednesday, September 30, 2009

CHC Receives Grant to Improve Electronic Health Record

From the Community Health Center

CHC has received one of five grants awarded nationwide for Electronic Health Record Quality Improvement grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The $400,000 grant will build on the pioneering work that CHC has done with Electronic Health Records. The focus of this grant is to build a national model for hypertension control with a focus on minority groups.

(CHC operates the Community Health Center at 635 Main St. in Middletown.)

Included in the work will be a patient’s ability to monitor his or her blood pressure from home, using a new Internet link to his or her health records.

“Broad use of health information technology has the potential to improve health-care quality, prevent medical errors, and increase the efficiency of care provision,” said David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology for HHS. “This program supports the Department’s overall efforts to assist physicians and hospitals in adopting and becoming meaningful users of health information technology.”

The department released a total of $27.8 million to 27 agencies. CHC was one of only five agencies to receive funding in its category of quality improvement based on existing use of electronic health records.

The grant was announced today by Congresswomen Rosa Delauro “The award is an important recognition of CHC’s leadership in the field of electronic health records,” said Mark Masselli, CHC’s president and CEO. “ We are very appreciative of Rosa’s support as she understands the intersection of quality care , chronic disease and electronic health records - with these funds we will be able to engage our patients directly in the use of these records to improve their health and to correct a long-time health disparity in our health-care system – the large proportion of minority group members with high blood pressure.”

Founded in 1972 as a small, free clinic in Middletown, CHC is now one of the largest health centers of its kind in the nation, serving more than 70,000 underserved patients in 12 sites and 180 locations across Connecticut. The agency offers core services of medical care, dentistry and behavioral health care to patients with little or no health insurance.

High blood pressure is a leading cause of illness and death among the population at large, but particularly among members of minority groups. Controlling high blood pressure will reduce the incidents of strokes, heart attacks, and heart and kidney failures. Because of historic disparities in our health-care delivery system,, CHC with this grant will focus on minority groups, particularly African-American patients.

For CHC, the electronic health record in this case will improve provider behavior and practice, and patient engagement through self-
management. For the patient’s part, he or she will be able to do home monitoring of blood pressure readings, and download other blood pressure readings for integration into his or her electronic health record.

In its annual survey of patients, CHC has found a growing trend of Internet access of one kind or another by its patients. That number now stands at 70 percent. (CHC saw 56,000 patients in 2008.) Most of CHC patients desire to use the Internet to contact their providers, request prescription refills, or receive lab results. More than 55 percent said they would use a web link to get that information.

The expanded use of electronic health records by CHC will help improve the outcome of patients with high blood pressure. CHC was one of the early pioneers to embrace electronic health records and now is introducing a new patient link.


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