Assessment of Health IT and Data Exchange in Safety Net Providers: Final Report Appendix. Introduction


The National Opinion Research Center (NORC) is pleased to present this report detailing findings from our recent site visits to Utah and New Mexico for the “Assessment of Health IT and Data Exchange in Safety Net Providers.” NORC conducted this site visit under contract with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) worked in conjunction with ASPE to guide activities under this project.

This report summarizes the experience of health centers working with the Health Choice Network (HCN) in implementing electronic medical records (EMR) and other IT applications and services. Although, HCN is headquartered in Southern Florida, our site visit focused on HCN members that are located in Utah and New Mexico –Utah Health Choice Network (UHCN), New Mexico Health Choice Network (NMHCN) and their member centers. This design allows us to look into the challenges and opportunities facing rural health centers as well as the effectiveness of networks working with member health centers that are not located in the network’s home region. The report is organized as follows:

Site Visit Methods and Background. In this section we review our methods for conducing site visits and briefly describe the centers we visited. We also summarize the history, size, mission and core functions of HCN overall.

Key Findings from Utah and New Mexico. In this section we summarize findings that relate to the key themes of inquiry for the project. Specifically, we describe health centers’ motivation for joining HCN and adopting EMRs, the extent to which they are using EMRs currently, challenges and benefits of working with HCN, the extent of their involvement in health information exchange (HIE), the impact of the EMR on quality improvement or cost of care and related topics.

Future Directions for the National Network. In this section we highlight findings from discussions with HCN leadership both in South Florida and in the two regional networks we visited, Utah and New Mexico. These discussions examine the future direction of HCN and how that direction will impact HCN member health centers. HCN operates in 10 states with member centers in Florida, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas Missouri, Nebraska, New York, New Mexico, Utah and Hawaii.

Conclusions. Finally, we end the report with a set of preliminary conclusions of relevance to program officials, policy makers and other stakeholders.

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