The old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” holds new meaning in healthcare today. Organizations and patients alike see the value—both clinically and financially—in chronic disease management, preventive care, and overall patient wellness.

That said, it’s one thing to achieve high-quality, cost-effective care for patients who have lots of resources at their disposal. It’s another task entirely when your mission is to deliver the same great care to the underinsured and underserved.

At Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. (MHM), we’re taking a proactive approach to this challenge to make sure all patients coming through our organization receive the best care possible.

MHM is a private, faith-based, not-for-profit organization that offers medical, dental, and health-related human services to low-income and uninsured families across south Texas. We own and operate our own clinics, as well as provide funding to other healthcare and social services agencies. What we’ve found is that effectively serving a large, and underserved, patient population requires two things:

1.  Data to identify the best ways to engage patients proactively, and
2.  Technology capable of sharing information among a wide variety of providers and programs.

It’s no great secret that in order to build the best patient-centered programs, you first need insight into your unique patient populations and their individual healthcare situations. For this, data is absolutely vital. We’ve learned through epidemiology reports, for instance, that many of our patients cope with diabetes; others suffer from hypertension. With this knowledge, we’ve developed interventions and services to help our patients effectively deal with these conditions—including proactive health education and outreach.

So, how do we get the reports and other data we need? The answer is technology.

Providers within MHM use the same electronic health record (EHR)—whether medical practitioners, dental providers, social workers, health educators, or fitness specialists. It makes it easy to communicate about care plans and share, track, and analyze data across the entire care continuum. We can even run “what if” scenarios to predict the efficacy of proposed health management strategies.

But not all of our partner organizations use the same EHR, of course. To address this, we ask them to send us quality reports using a pre-defined format so we can capture apples-to-apples facts, figures, and statistics for ongoing study and analysis.

That’s important because we’re also active members of Health Access San Antonio (HASA), a public health information exchange (HIE) that covers 90 to 95 percent of the hospital networks in south Texas. HASA gives our providers valuable visibility into which patients have presented to area emergency departments, their diagnoses, and their treatments—which in turn helps them design better, more preventive care plans.

And ultimately, that’s what it’s all about. We’re continually exploring ways to put data and technology to work to empower underserved patients through better health.

Want to learn more about how an integrated population health solution can help you automate the patient engagement process, support collaborative care goals, and better achieve value-based outcomes – all while seeing a significant ROI?  Download the “Prevent Patients from Falling Through the Cracks in 10 Easy Steps” ebook.