Community Health Center Information Systems Assessment: Issues and Opportunities. Final Report. 3.4 OCHIN Non-Partner IS Characteristics

10/30/2005

In this section we focus on the IS characteristics of non-OCHIN partner health centers that we interviewed. As the needs of non-partners and IPM partners are quite similar, we focus here on key differences between the IS characteristics of non-partners and the IPM partners.

Northwest Human Services (NWHS).NWHS in Salem, Oregon has developed a similar practice management system to the OCHIN/Epic solution in terms of functionality. Like Epic, their system includes scheduling, billing/claims, reporting, and accounts receivable. While there were several reasons that they decided not to implement Epic’s IPM software, one was that they believed that NextGen, their alternative practice management software vendor, could be better tailored and customized for their health center.  The center’s executive director along with the IS staff and the board selected NextGen based on an extensive proposal review process including discussions with vendors, consultants, and an attorney for contract negotiations.  They experienced a successful rollout to multiple sites, including trainings for IS staff and users.  NWHS reports satisfaction with the support, cost and on-going relationship with the NextGen vendor. However, the respondents noted that they still appreciate the benefits of collaborating with the OCHIN members. 

Coalition of Community Clinics.Two of our health center respondents, Outside In and the Wallace Medical Concern, are part of the Coalition of Community Health Clinics, a network of 11 small, community-based providers that serve the needs of vulnerable populations in the Portland metropolitan area and its suburbs at low or no charge to clients or outside payers. While some of the coalition members are consolidated health centers, most are smaller “free clinics” funded through local sources.  Of key interest to our discussion is the Coalition’s use of a system of Microsoft Access-based databases created by its database administrator.  Each clinic has an Access-based database system, tailored to their organization’s needs, that has common data features which enable to health centers to produce annual reports and other necessary functions. The Access-based system at Outside In provides the primary functions of billing, claims processing, and reporting (including the UDS reporting capability). Respondents at this clinic, while seeing the value in the collaborative nature of OCHIN, feel that using Epic is not feasible for the smaller clinics that make up the Coalition. 

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