This is a fragile time for our nation’s community health centers and the patients they serve. Community health centers are at the forefront of change, serving as the primary medical home for more than 27 million Americans who are often poor and lacking in consistent healthcare. Clinicians in those centers are struggling to keep up with the clinical and financial demands that accompany the shift from the fee-for-service model to value-based care. Costs are increasing, legislative policies and funding are changing, and the demand for rapid service is pressuring physicians like never before.

While these struggles go on, patients served by these centers remain at risk.

These are among the challenges and opportunities we discussed at the recent National Association of Community Health Centers’ (NACHC) Community Health Institute and EXPO, where I was privileged to lead a panel discussion on new payment models, specific tools health centers use to support their work, and the relationship between clinical practice and financial management.

The Forefront of Change

Health center clinicians and executives can easily feel blinded by what the future holds, which is why NextGen Healthcare has sponsored this event every year for more than a decade to ensure these concerns are being discussed and solved to our best abilities. We need the predictive analytics and tools that allow clinicians to work more effectively and help them prioritize their needs. The bottom line, as always, is improving patient care.

During the panel discussion, I heard physicians and practice leaders from across the country talk about the real-world issues facing community health centers. They, like other medical practices, are focused on enhancing the patient experience, advancing population health, reducing costs and improving the work-life of physicians. The common thread among these perspectives was that clinicians and practice leaders need solutions to manage attribution, analytics and quantification. Greater obstacles arise when patients in a rural area aren’t having regular check-ups, are uninsured, or can’t reach their physician easily. Managing these patient populations in a quality-focused, cost-efficient manner and supporting your organization’s transition from volume to value can be extremely difficult. Maximizing success relies on our ability to find these solutions and better engage the patient. 

NextGen Healthcare’s recent acquisition of EagleDream Health bolsters our technological solutions and consultations by providing a modular, cloud-based, SaaS software solution that utilizes clinical, financial, claims and patient-derived data to manage large patient populations in a quality-focused, cost-efficient manner. For healthcare organizations trying to manage volumes of data, EagleDream Health’s contemporary software solution transforms data to reveal compelling and actionable information that can drive patients back to the community health center. With this data in hand, community health physicians and patients can make informed healthcare decisions while enabling the center to achieve its value-based care delivery goals.

In this time of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to collaborate with health centers and ensure we’re meeting the demands of clinicians and the millions of Americans who require access to the quality care provided by community health centers.