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Health center gets $30,000 grant to improve electronic records

GREENFIELD — The Community Health Center of Franklin County has received a $30,000 grant from two Boston-based health organizations, which will help the local center improve its own electronic record database.

The grant — awarded by Neighborhood Health Plan and Partners HealthCare — will pay for staff training on how to properly fill out electronic medical records in compliance with national standards, said Kerri Bohonowicz, the health clinic’s CFO and interim CEO.

“The system will require providers to consistently ask the same questions to every patient and to record and address the patient’s response,” she said. “Ultimately, collecting this information will improve the quality of care and will provide equity of care to CHCFC’s patients.”

Improving the ways that electronic health records are filled out has now become a priority for medical organizations, in the wake of federal and state health care reform. Not performing this task correctly may mean that less money comes in from the federal government to pay for Medicaid and Medicare, who are major funders for the clinic’s many poor and elderly patients.

It is also one step in a series of tasks the health center must complete before it can become officially recognized as “patient-centered medical home.”

The PCMH model — one that all state-supported community health centers will eventually be adopting, according to health center officials — changes the relationship a patient has with the center’s staff.

Health care becomes a partnership between patients and physicians, they said. Each patient will be assigned to a team of specific people, ranging from their primary care doctors to nurses and case managers.

“Currently, we offer same-day access, timely call backs and support patient self care,” said Bohonowicz. “At the end of every visit, patients are given a visit summary, detailing the doctor’s advice, diagnosis and treatment plan.”

The health center still needs to improve communication with outside providers and to hire more case managers, said Bohonowicz.

The center is planning to apply in a few months to be officially recognized as a PCMH by the National Committee for Quality Assurance — a private not-for-profit organization that sets national quality standards for hospitals and health centers.

All 49 members of the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers — which also includes Baystate Medical Center Health Centers in Springfield — received grants from the Boston health organizations.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
shores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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