Community Health Center Information Systems Assessment: Issues and Opportunities. Final Report. 1.3 The OCHIN Initiative

10/30/2005

OCHIN is a non-for-profit consortium of health centers and health safety net stakeholders created in 2000 following a state-sponsored study that recommended enhanced use of IS to improve the organization, coordination, financial stability and management of safety net health centers.  OCHIN is governed through its Board by the directors of participating consolidated health center organizations as well as the directors of the Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA) and State Primary Care Office. OCHIN’s partnering consolidated health centers reflect the full diversity of health safety net providers in Oregon described above. All of these centers receive funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act.

The full OCHIN membership currently includes 23 organizations and agencies that serve Oregon’s safety net population. As described above, OCHIN describes its mission as increasing access to IS to improve administrative and clinical functions at primary care safety net health settings and to increase access to high quality information on the populations served by the safety net for planning and policy. OCHIN’s primary accomplishment to date has been to design, develop, and maintain a regional, HIPAA-compliant, high-speed data network for its member health centers. As part of maintaining this network, OCHIN administers a system of central servers using an application service provider (ASP) type model to provide full featured practice management to a growing number of consolidated health centers throughout the State and region.  To provide this software, OCHIN has partnered with Epic Systems, Inc., a health information software vendor whose products are typically used in high-end health care provider settings such as elite academic medical centers. In addition to the practice management software, OCHIN plans to implement an electronic medical records (EMR) software system to allow systematic tracking of clinical data as well as a comprehensive data warehouse that will allow policy makers, providers and other stakeholders to access near real-time data on the health status and health care utilization of the safety net population. OCHIN’s development and technical infrastructure, as well as other issues relevant to the initiative’s sustainability, replicability and overall effectiveness, will be described in later sections of this report.

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