Planned Parenthood Northern California: Contra Costa Electronic Health Technology Initiative
For Planned Parenthood Northern California (PPNC) Concord Health Center – which delivers reproductive health services and primary and preventive care to approximately 9,200 patients each year – implementation of electronic health records (EHRs) was an imperative.
Beyond the fact that multiple regulations demand the change, PPNC recognized that EHRs could dramatically improve care and patient satisfaction, while helping to tighten links among patients, providers, and health information. Moreover, by enabling the gathering of health data on large patient populations – and, ultimately, interoperability among health care settings – EHRs enhance the ability of health care organizations to understand what works and what doesn't and to better manage the health of entire communities.
Yet making the transition to EHRs is expensive and difficult, especially for community clinics like PPNC, which often scrape by on scant resources. Beyond the costs of the systems and implementations, clinics must train staff and prepare for an initial loss in productivity as people become used to an entirely new way of performing their jobs.
Thus, to help PPNC Concord transition to EHRs, in 2012, the Community Health Fund provided an initial health initiative grant of $407,195. This enabled PPNC to successfully implement electronic tools that helped the organization stay on track with the federal government's call for Medicare and Medicaid providers to adopt EHRs by 2014. The grant supported many aspects of the complex process, including:
- Purchasing, installing, and testing the necessary IT equipment
- Making necessary building improvements
- Converting paper charts to EHR templates
- Staff training
Perhaps most important, PPNC reported that those steps allowed the organization to already begin achieving the true goal of the project: improved quality of care and greater efficiency.
As the new system matures, PPNC anticipates it will continue to help expand service capacity and improve quality of care, while ensuring patient health data is secured and protected. Thus in 2013, the CHF awarded PPNC another one-year health initiative grant, this time for $248,000. The additional grant expanded PPNC's ability to use this new technology at its five central and east Contra Costa health centers by facilitating implementation of a secure online patient portal and a data storage and security system.
In 2014, the CHF awarded PPNC another $250,000 health initiative grant to help the organization implement the final phase of this initiative. Expected outcomes include:
- Transition to ICD-10 protocols
- Implementation of an automated, technology-based quality assurance (QA) and quality system