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FQHC Statistics – Growth, Region, Performance and Revenue – Federally Qualified Health Centers across USA

FQHCs as defined by Medicare and Medicaid

According to Medicare and Medicaid statutes, an FQHC is a health center that receives federal funding under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act to provide comprehensive primary care services to uninsured and underinsured populations.

Health centers originated under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 as “neighborhood health centers”. Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act established the Health Center Program, which provides federal funding for health centers. It also provided federal grants to community and migrant health centers to serve the uninsured. The FQHC program of today was enacted under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1989 and expanded under OBRA of 1990. The legislation provided cost-based reimbursements to health centers for Medicare and Medicaid services specified under Section 330.

The Growth of FQHCs

In the early 1960s, there were only 8 health centers in U.S. Ever since then, the numbers have increased exponentially. By 2001, there were 748 health centers at 4,128 service sites around the nation, serving approximately 10 million individuals.

Federal funding for health centers has increased from $750 million in 1996 to $2.2 billion in 2010. The federal support has increased tremendously over the last 10 years. In 2011, there were 1,128 health centers providing care to more than 8,000 rural and urban delivery sites in U.S. and territories. Today, there are 1400 organizations with 11200 facilities serving about 25 million individuals every year.

Figure 1 - Growth of Health Centers (1980 - 2018)

Figure 1 – Growth of Health Centers (1980 – 2018)

The above chart shows the growth of health centers from the time it started in 1980 till 2018. Also, the chart shows the exponential increase in the number of patients served over the years.

FQHCs in various regions across U.S

State State Code Number of FQHCs
California CA 176
Texas TX 73
New York NY 65
Florida FL 48
Illinois IL 45
Ohio OH 45
Pennsylvania PA 44
Michigan MI 39
Massachusetts MA 39
North Carolina NC 38
Georgia GA 35
Louisiana LA 34
Oregon OR 31
Tennessee TN 29
Alaska AK 28
Missouri MO 28
West Virginia WV 27
Washington WA 27
Virginia VA 26
Indiana IN 25
Kentucky KY 23
New Jersey NJ 23
South Carolina SC 22
Arizona AZ 21
Mississippi MS 21
Colorado CO 20
Oklahoma OK 20
Kansas KA 18
Maine ME 18
Maryland MD 17
Montana MT 17
New Mexico NM 17
Wisconsin WI 17
Connecticut CT 16
Minnesota MN 16
Hawaii HI 14
Iowa IA 14
Idaho ID 14
Alabama AL 14
Puerto Rico PR 14
Utah UT 13
Arkansas AR 12
New Hampshire NH 11
Vermont VT 11
District of Columbia WDC 8
Rhode Island RI 8
Nebraska NE 7
Wyoming WY 6
Nevada NV 5
South Dakota SD 5
North Dakota ND 4
Delaware DE 3
Virgin Islands VI 3
Guam GU 2
Northern Mariana Islands MP 2

Performance of FQHCs

Figure 2 - Health Centers Perform Better on Ambulatory Care Quality Measures than Private Practice Physicians

Figure 2 – Health Centers Perform Better on Ambulatory Care Quality Measures than Private Practice Physicians

The above chart shows how health centers have outperformed private practice physicians in every aspect of service.

Figure 3 - Health Centers Provide More Preventive Services than Other Primary Care Providers

Figure 3 – Health Centers Provide More Preventive Services than Other Primary Care Providers

The above chart shows a comparison between health centers and other providers based on the number of patient visits for various ailments.

Figure 4 - Health Center Patients Are More Satisfied with the Overall Care Received Compared with Low Income Patients Nationally

Figure 4 – Health Center Patients Are More Satisfied with the Overall Care Received Compared with Low Income Patients Nationally

The above chart shows the level of satisfaction of low-income patients. Health center patients have a huge level of satisfaction as compared to other low-income patients nationally.

Financing and Reimbursements for FQHCs

FQHCs are required by law to provide services to all people, regardless of ability to pay. The uninsured are charged for services on a board-approved sliding-fee scale, which is based on a patient’s family income and size.

FQHCs are financed through a mix of Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements (with different payment methodologies), direct patient revenue, other third-party payers (private insurers), state funding, local funding, philanthropic organizations, and grant funding from the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) of HRSA of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Figure 5 - FQHC Revenues by Payer Source

Figure 5 – Financing and Reimbursements for FQHCs

The above chart shows the revenue distribution of FQHCs based on payer source.

FQHC Revenue across all regions in U.S (approx. 2018)

Location Medicaid Medicare Private Insurance Self-Pay Federal Section 330 Grants Other Grants and Contracts Other Total
United States $10,544M $1,692M $2,227M $1,004M $4,422M $2,916M $943M $23,752M
Alabama $44M $14M $13M $10M $76M $10M $2M $173M
Alaska $79M $12M $28M $9M $64M $119M $2M $316M
Arizona $257M $37M $59M $24M $78M $43M $5M $506M
Arkansas $51M $15M $18M $10M $47M $11M $1M $157M
California $2,889M $300M $205M $118M $607M $529M $272M $4,922M
Colorado $259M $30M $30M $33M $98M $88M $30M $571M
Connecticut $206M $25M $24M $8M $53M $49M $9M $376M
Delaware $10M $1M $2M $4M $12M $5M $201K $37M
District of Columbia $130M $19M $20M $3M $22M $37M $5M $239M
Florida $376M $58M $134M $59M $219M $160M $23M $1,033M
Georgia $52M $34M $39M $27M $108M $25M $6M $294M
Hawaii $87M $13M $14M $5M $26M $30M $3M $181M
Idaho $31M $15M $35M $16M $44M $24M $6M $174M
Illinois $363M $45M $116M $29M $184M $113M $44M $897M
Indiana $161M $14M $25M $14M $68M $32M $27M $343M
Iowa $63M $10M $18M $9M $40M $16M $5M $163M
Kansas $29M $9M $17M $10M $36M $14M $4M $123M
Kentucky $156M $32M $56M $17M $67M $8M $5M $344M
Louisiana $82M $14M $47M $12M $90M $32M $9M $288M
Maine $37M $32M $43M $9M $40M $8M $6M $179M
Maryland $163M $32M $45M $13M $51M $33M $29M $370M
Massachusetts $314M $91M $141M $19M $114M $246M $117M $1,044M
Michigan $268M $50M $71M $22M $119M $40M $7M $580M
Minnesota $67M $10M $14M $10M $37M $27M $3M $171M
Mississippi $33M $16M $18M $17M $72M $16M $1M $177M
Missouri $203M $21M $39M $23M $97M $39M $6M $431M
Montana $24M $8M $15M $6M $35M $10M $4M $104M
Nebraska $15M $1M $6M $7M $19M $20M $1M $72M
Nevada $23M $4M $10M $3M $18M $12M $757K $73M
New Hampshire $19M $12M $18M $4M $22M $9M $2M $89M
New Jersey $147M $11M $11M $16M $80M $60M $4M $330M
New Mexico $112M $20M $22M $18M $68M $51M $3M $298M
New York $1,099M $138M $184M $43M $243M $239M $74M $2,023M
North Carolina $69M $55M $39M $38M $120M $38M $9M $370M
North Dakota $8M $3M $7M $3M $10M $687K $1M $35M
Ohio $181M $32M $41M $15M $134M $35M $25M $465M
Oklahoma $46M $12M $18M $12M $52M $9M $2M $155M
Oregon $325M $39M $20M $12M $85M $71M $14M $570M
Pennsylvania $277M $54M $83M $17M $110M $38M $640K $588M
Rhode Island $90M $12M $15M $3M $25M $13M $2M $162M
South Carolina $79M $42M $68M $20M $79M $24M $34M $349M
South Dakota $10M $4M $8M $5M $19M $3M $2M $55M
Tennessee $66M $20M $30M $13M $78M $28M $7M $244M
Texas $335M $46M $69M $78M $245M $265M $58M $1100M
Utah $27M $9M $13M $9M $35M $25M $3M $125M
Vermont $43M $24M $26M $17M $20M $6M $7M $147M
Virginia $35M $28M $32M $20M $82M $14M $3M $217M
Washington $650M $68M $80M $44M $132M $87M $20M $1,084M
West Virginia $100M $45M $79M $24M $65M $17M $6M $338M
Wisconsin $162M $7M $24M $10M $40M $46M $3M $296M
Wyoming $1M $1M $2M $1M $7M $1M $1M $17M
American Samoa $0 $0 $0 $293K $2M $792K $0 $4M
Federated States of Micronesia $0 $0 $23K $56K $1M $143K $0 $2M
Guam $3M $8,975 $25K $139K $2M $1M $0 $7M
Marshall Islands $0 $0 $0 $29KK $527K $1M $0 $1M
Northern Mariana Islands $116K $0 $3139 $1410 $799K $0 $0 $920K
Puerto Rico $157M $22M $11M $7M $90M $8M $2M $300M
Republic of Palau $0 $0 $39K $1M $674K $50K $0 $2M
U.S. Virgin Islands $5M $776K $815K $603K $3M $4M $0 $15M

Future of FQHCs

FQHCs have had a significant growth in the past decades. The above statistical data prove that FQHCs have the potential to serve more patients thereby improving the quality of care. In order to provide quality care improve patient experience, FQHC must invest in the right technology. HealthViewX Patient Referral Management software has provided the best use cases for the major challenges faced by the FQHC.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management Software for FQHCs

HealthViewX has completely analyzed the workflow of FQHCs. We have implemented the following features for many of our FQHC clients thus positively impacting their workflow

    • EMR/EHR integration – Our System integrates directly with electronic health records (EHRs). This enables healthcare professionals to easily obtain prior authorizations in real time at the point of care. It also eliminates time-consuming paper forms, faxes, and phone calls.
    • Insurance pre-authorization automation –  There are two ways in which HealthViewX solution automates the insurance pre-authorization process. The first one is the api-based method. Through this, we retrieve information regarding the forms and communicate information back and forth between the FQHC and the insurance company. The second one is the form automation method.  Through this, we get all payer-specific form, fill in the necessary information and send it to the insurance company via efax.
    • Intelligent Provider Match – The system has a smart search feature that enables PCPs to filter receiving providers according to their preference. The list is always up to date with the newly added specialty and imaging centers which makes it easy for the PCP.
    • To and fro Communication – At any time of the referral process, the PCP and the center can communicate with the help of the inbuilt secure messaging and voice call applications. By this, the physicians can get referral updates easily.
    • Referral Analytics – Customizable dashboards and reports provide information about the number of referrals sent, referrals in various status, referrals that were missed, processed and pending. It gives a clear picture for the FQHC and helps them in making informed decisions.

 

Reference

  1. Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (data from the National Association of Community Health Centers and the Uniform Data System (UDS) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)
  2. Goldman, LE et al. Federally Qualified Health Centers and Private Practice Performance on Ambulatory Care Measures. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2012. 43(2):142-149. *Fontil et al. Management of Hypertension in Primary Care Safety-Net Clinics in the United States: A Comparison of Community Health Centers and Private Physicians’ Offices. Health Services Research. April 2017. 52:2.
  3. 2015 Uniform Data System. Bureau of Primary Health Care, HRSA, DHHS. National Center for Health Statistics. NCHS Data Brief. No. 220. November 2015. Hypertension Prevalence and Control Among Adults: United States, 2011 – 2014. National Committee for Quality Assurance. Comprehensive Diabetes Care, The State of Healthcare Quality (2016).
  4. Shi L, Tsai J, Higgins PC, Lebrun La. (2009). Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in access to care and quality of care for US health center patients compared with non-health center patients. J Ambul Care Manage 32(4): 342 – 50. Shi L, Leburn L, Tsai J and Zhu J. (2010). Characteristics of Ambulatory Care Patients and Services: A Comparison of Community Health Centers and Physicians’ Offices J Health Care for Poor and Underserved 21 (4): 1169-83. Hing E, Hooker RS, Ashman JJ. (2010). Primary Health Care in Community Health Centers and Comparison with Office-Based Practice. J Community Health. 2011 Jun; 36(3): 406 – 13.
  5. Shi L, Lebrun-Harris LA, Daly CA, et al. Reducing Disparities in Access to Primary Care and Patient Satisfaction with Care: The Role of Health Centers. Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved. 2013; 24(1):56-66.
  6. George Washington University analysis of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Uniform Data System. Special Data Request, March 2018.
  7. https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/community-health-center-revenues-by-payer-source/?dataView=0&currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

How Can A Patient Referral Management Software Help Federally Qualified Health Centers In Solving The Opioid Crisis?

What are opioids?

Opioids are a drug class that includes the illegal drug heroin as well as powerful pain relievers, such as

  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Codeine
  • Morphine
  • Fentanyl

and many others.

Why is there an opioid overdose crisis in USA?

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies reassured the medical community that patients would not become addicted to opioid pain relievers. So healthcare providers began to prescribe them at greater rates. Increased prescription of opioid medications led to widespread misuse of both prescription and non-prescription opioids. It all happened even before it became clear that these medications could indeed be highly addictive.

How has the opioid crisis affected the American population?

  • In 2016, more than 42,000 people died from overdoses involving opioids. About 40% of all opioid overdose deaths were because of prescriptions.
  • Every day in the U.S., hospitals treat more than 1,000 people in emergency departments for not using prescription opioids as directed.
  • On an average, 115 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
  • Roughly 21 to 29% of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them.
  • Between 8 and 12% develop an opioid use disorder.
  • An estimated 4 to 6% who misuse prescription opioids transition to heroin.
  • About 80% of people who use heroin first misused prescription opioids.
  • Opioid overdoses increased 30% from July 2016 through September 2017 in 52 areas in 45 states.
  • The Midwestern region saw opioid overdoses increase 70% from July 2016 through September 2017.
  • Opioid overdoses in large cities increased by 54% in 16 states

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., and opioid addiction is driving this epidemic.

What are the measures taken up by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)?

In response to the opioid crisis, HHS is focusing its efforts on five major priorities:

  • Improving access to treatment and recovery services
  • Promoting the use of overdose-reversing drugs
  • Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance
  • Providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction
  • Advancing better practices for pain management

How does the opioid crisis impact Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs)?

Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in the United States is a non-profit entity consisting of clinical care providers, that work at comprehensive federal standards. FQHC is a dominant model for providing integrated primary care and public health services to low-income and underserved population. To receive federal funding, FQHCs must meet the following requirements.

  • Be in a federally designated medically underserved area (MUA) or serve medically underserved populations (MUP)
  • Provide comprehensive primary care
  • Adjust charges for health services on a sliding fee schedule according to patient income
  • Be governed by a community board of which most of the members are patients at the FQHC

The opioid crisis is taking a hit at FQHCs because it is affecting the poorer population to a greater extent. The underserved population is more affected by this crisis because they are not able to give up on opioids even when they cannot afford it. When such patients visit an FQHC, the physicians must refer them to deaddiction centers or rehabilitation centers for treatment. Considering the increasing number of opioid addicts, the number of patients visiting FQHCs will also be more. This implies that FQHCs have to create more referrals every day. FQHCs are finding it difficult to handle such a huge number of referrals.

Challenges faced by FQHCs

  • Prior Authorization – The referral coordinator does the insurance pre-authorization for the patient referrals in healthcare. Considering that physicians refer one out of every three patients to a specialist, it is difficult to do prior authorization. This makes patient referral system time-consuming and ineffective.
  • Finding the right specialist/imaging center – There is no effective approach to finding the right specialist/imaging center. So the chances of missing out on a good specialist/imaging center are high. The list of imaging centers and specialists an FQHC has will not be up-to-date as new specialists and imaging centers are opening up often.
  • Open Referral loops – This happens when the receiving provider fails to update the progress of the referral. 25% to 50% of referring physicians do not know if their patients actually visit the specialist or imaging center. As many patient referrals are initiated on a daily basis, tracking it manually is difficult for the referring provider. This ultimately results in an open patient referral loop.
  • Patient referral leakage –  When a patient moves out of the network, it results in patient referral leakage. It has an effect on the revenue. The main problem with this is the missed revenue opportunities for health systems. These organizations miss out on reimbursement for medical services that they had provided earlier when patient leakage occurs. This applies to healthcare systems that adopt value-based care or payment models such as accountable care organizations (ACOs).
  • Outdated referral workflow – The current referral workflow is outdated. The providers find it difficult to cope up with the increasing patient referrals in healthcare. On an average, a referring provider spends half an hour to one hour per referral and even more time in following up.

How can HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution help FQHCs?

A typical FQHC does a lot of outbound referrals where the PCP’s refers his patient to a specialist practice when the patient needs expert advice or advanced treatment for a specific problem. The PCP generates a referral request with the EHR system to a central team that has referral coordinators. The patient’s insurance is pre-authorized, the physician refers the patient is to a specialist or imaging center. This is how a referral works. It involves a lot of manual work and keeping track of the referral is highly impossible because a referral coordinator deals with thousands of these in a day.

This is when an automated Healthcare Patient Referral Management System comes in handy. Electronic healthcare referral management system helps healthcare organizations in the seamless processing of the referral process.

HealthViewX solution has implemented a referral consolidator that brings all the referrals in a single queue. The referral coordinator can validate the documents, attach new ones, merge it to an existing referral, create a new referral for it etc. The feature also lets the referral coordinator validate the patient insurance eligibility. Based on the specialist availability the referral coordinator can create a referral. The system can integrate with EMR/EHR and can also coordinate between the referring and the receiving sides. A referral has a status attached to it looking at which the referring provider can understand in what stage the referral is. Any referral has a timeline view which is common to both the receiving and the referring providers. In the timeline view history of the referral can be seen for eg: patiently related notes, previous status of the referral, etc. Documents attachment and status change can also be done at any time of the referral process. With the help of HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution, the referring and the receiving provider can always have an eye on the referral and also close it in time.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management Solution features

  • Insurance Pre-authorization – HealthViewX solution supports automated insurance pre-authorization that reduces the manual work of the referral coordinators.
  • Intelligent Provider Match – The solution supports an “Intelligent Provider Match” Feature that helps in finding the right specialist/imaging center easily.
  • Seamless communication – HealthViewX solution has an inbuilt audio calling and messaging application which is secure and enables faster communication
  • HIPAA compliant data security – The solution is HIPAA compliant and offers secure data exchange. It supports almost all formats of files and keeps the patient documents safe.
  • Referral history – The timeline view provides the history and current status of the referral. A status helps in knowing the referral progress.
  • Referral loop closure – Referral updates are hard to miss that makes it easier to close the referral loops on time.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management application solves most of the outbound referral problems for FQHCs. To know more about HealthViewX solution, schedule a demo with us. Our patient referral management experts will guide you through our HIPAA-compliant solution.

References

What Are The Requirements To Start Chronic Care Management Program For Your Practice?

Medicare Chronic Care Management program

More than 45% of the American population is suffering from at least one chronic condition. CMS had an insurance policy to reimburse the hospital expenses of chronic patients. Due to inefficient care, the patients were readmitted to the hospital. This, in turn, increased the Medicare reimbursements. Medicare identified the need for continued care to patients with chronic conditions. In order to cut down on insurance expenses and provide continuous care to patients, Medicare introduced the Chronic Care Management (CCM) program.

In 2015, Medicare introduced the Chronic Care Management (CCM) program. It is defined as non-face-to-face services provided to its beneficiaries. In addition to office visits and other face-to-face encounters (billed separately), these services include

  • Communication with the patient
  • Health professionals being available both electronically and by phone for care coordination, medication management, and being accessible to patients.

Medicare provides Chronic Care Management services for patients with multiple (two or more) chronic conditions

  • Expected to last at least 12 months or until the death of the patient.
  • Places the patient at significant risk of death, acute exacerbation/ decompensation, or functional decline.

CCM Service Summary

The following are steps through which a Chronic Care Management service is furnished,

  1. Initiating Visit  Initiation during an Annual Wellness Visit (AWV), Initial Preventive Physical Examination (IPPE) or face-to-face E/M visit for new patients or patients not seen within one year prior to the commencement of Chronic Care Management services.
  2. Structured Recording of Patient Information Using Certified EHR Technology –  Structured recording of demographics, problems, medications, and medication allergies using certified EHR technology.
  3. 24/7 Access & Continuity of Care – Provide 24/7 access to physicians or other qualified healthcare professionals or clinical staff and continuity of care with a designated member of the care team.
  4. Comprehensive Care Plan – Creation, revision, and/or monitoring of an electronic person-centered care plan.
  5. Enhanced Communication Opportunities – Enhanced opportunities for the patient to communicate with the physician through not only telephone access, but also the use of secure messaging, Internet, or other non-face-to-face consultation methods.

Why Chronic Care Management?

Most practices have a large population of patients with two or more chronic conditions. In fact, 68% of Medicare patients fit this description. The goal of a practice is to help their patients get healthier and improve their overall standard of living. This can be tough in case of chronic patients who require significant additional support. The practice may not have the resources to provide care. Without the proper systems in place, treating patients with chronic conditions is difficult to manage. That’s when the Chronic Care Management (CCM) program comes to play.

CPT codes for CCM

99490 $42 CCM services for at least 20 minutes of clinical staff time directed by a physician or other qualified healthcare professional per calendar month
99487 $60 CCM services for at least 60 minutes of clinical staff time directed by a physician or other qualified healthcare professional per calendar month
99489 $47 Each additional 30 minutes of clinical staff time directed by a physician or qualified healthcare professional per calendar month.

Chronic Care Program Requirements

One of the biggest obstacles that prevent medical practices from engaging in these programs are the inherent requirements for Medicare reimbursement. Some of these requirements include:

  • An established care team
  • A thorough care plan
  • 24/7 access to clinical staff
  • Coordination with clinical providers
  • 20+ monthly minutes of non-face-to-face care coordination

Partnering with CCM

With the available finite resources, the practice can partner with CCM services. Chronic Care Management services have the following advantages,

  • Good Medicare reimbursements depending on the service given
  • Ability to provide care and support to the patients for managing their conditions better
  • No additional cost if billing is managed within the network.

HealthViewX Chronic Care Management solution features

As the requirements of Chronic Care Management program are more, practices face difficulty in meeting the requirements. HealthViewX Chronic Care Management solution supports the following features that simplify the process,

  • Inbuilt audio, video calling and messaging features – HealthViewX Chronic Care Management solution has inbuilt video and audio calling features. It helps in giving Chronic Care Management services to their patients. Secure messaging is also available through which the physicians and the patients can communicate.
  • Automated call log feature – After a patient call, care plan creation or any action related to Chronic Care Management services, call logs are added to the patient. It reduces the physician’s manual effort is logging the call logs.
  • Preventive Care plans – HealthViewX solution supports care plans for the Chronic Care Management service for a patient. The physician can create a care plan depending on the patient’s health report. It helps in monitoring the patient’s vitals.
  • Chronic Care Management Analytics – Dashboards with intuitive charts and tables give complete analytics of the Chronic Care Management services. It provides a clear picture of the revenue perspective.
  • Consolidated Report – The physician can generate a consolidated report of the Chronic Care Management services given for a particular period. This makes it easy for the billing practitioner for getting the Medicare reimbursements.
  • HIPAA compliance – HealthViewX Chronic Care Management is HIPAA-compliant. It facilitates secure data exchange. All patient-related documents are managed securely.

HealthViewX Chronic Care Management solution is on par with the current requirements. It helps the practice to set up a CCM program with the least investment. To know more about our Chronic Care Management solution, schedule a demo with us.

 

References

  1. www.fightchronicdisease.org/sites/default/files/docs/Almanac_FINAL.ppt           

 

Bridging The Gap Between Community Health Center & Specialists Clinics/Imaging Centers

Community Healthcare Centers and what do they do

A Community Healthcare Center (CHC) is a non-profitable, consumer-directed healthcare organization. CHC serves the underserved, underinsured and uninsured people, and provides them with access to high quality and preventive medical health care. Since 1965 Community Health Systems have provided comprehensive health and wellness support services to more than 22 million Americans, who otherwise would not have had access to quality care.

Community Healthcare Network receives funds through federal and local grants and payments from patients and insurance companies. CHCs must compete once every three years for federal grant funding and use these federal grant dollars to help patients pay for their healthcare costs.  

Patient Referral Management in Community Clinics

Community Health Centers comprises of PCPs who offer primary health care services and related services to residents of a defined geographic area that is medically underserved. Many patients visit a PCP in a day. Community Health Centers do not have the facilities for giving specialized treatments or for taking advanced tests. So, when a patient requires any of these, the PCP refers him/her to the most suitable imaging center or specialty practice.

Community Health Systems mostly refer their patients out of the network. The referral workflow from the perspective of a referring provider is as follows.

  • The PCP sends the referral through the EHR/EMR to the referral coordination team.
  • The referral coördinator will study the patient demographics and understand the required diagnosis.
  • The team coordinates for insurance preauthorization to cover the medical expenses for the required treatment/services.
  • Based on these, the referral coordinator will find the right specialist or imaging center for further diagnosis.
  • After finding the right specialist or imaging center, the patient details are sent out as a referral.
  • Community Health Systems sends referrals through various sources like phone, fax, email, etc.
  • The referral coordinator chooses the source depending on the receiving provider’s convenience.

The gap between the community healthcare and specialty care

A referral process may become inefficient and ineffective if the community health systems and the specialty clinics/imaging centers fail to communicate. When there is no proper communication from the specialty centers/imaging centers the community healthcare network finds it difficult to understand the progress of the referral. Let us see it from different perspectives to understand why there is a communication gap.      

  • From a referring provider’s perspective, the referral coordinator receives and processes many referrals every day. After sending out a referral, it is very difficult to follow-up with it manually. There are no effective and secure means of communication between the referring and the receiving providers. If the receiving provider or the patient fails to update the progress of a referral to the referring provider, he/she will never get to know what happened with the referral. Closing the referral loop becomes nearly impossible in this case.
  • From a receiving provider’s perspective, the referral he/she receives may contain incomplete information. Without vital details, processing the referral will be difficult. The source of referral are many but there is no single interface to manage it all. Missing out on referrals is common. There is no way of getting a consolidated data on the number of referrals missed and the number processed. Patient referral leakage becomes imminent if the referrals remain unprocessed for a long time.
  • From a patient’s perspective, he/she is referred to take tests in an imaging center and then meet a specialist to continue with the treatment. If the patient has to communicate back and forth between the referring and the receiving providers for incomplete information, history of illness, etc, it annoys the patient. It is frustrating for the patient to communicate between the two ends.

Referrals become incomplete, inefficient and ineffective when the participants fail to communicate and share timely information.

Guidelines to bridge the gap between Community Health Systems and Specialist Clinics/ Imaging Centers

  1. The referring provider must understand the reason for the referral. The referring provider should also make the patient understand why a referral is necessary and what the patient can expect from the referral visit. Give time for questions and encourage the patient to clarify their doubts during the referral appointment.
  2. When the referral coordinator does the insurance pre-authorization, he/she must make sure that the receiving provider covers the insurance policy of the patient. This will keep the patient better informed of how much the service will cost.
  3. It is better for the referral coordinator to contact the specialist directly. He/She can give information about the patient’s current situation, as well as other medical records, test results, and documents to avoid duplication of effort.
  4. Both the sides have to agree on the urgency of the referral and discuss the duration of the process, frequency of referral updates and the mode of communication.
  5. Any tool that can give prompt reminders on the appointments, follow-ups to both the patient and the receiving providers can help.
  6. After the referral reports arrive, the provider must check the results and recommendations. If the referring provider cannot understand the specialist’s evaluation, he should contact the specialist to understand the diagnosis better.
  7. Referral is an important part of patient care but the patients are not obligated to follow-up with the specialist. If the referral isn’t completed, the referring provider must talk to the patient during the next visit to find out why. Documenting this can help in directing future referrals to the right specialist or imaging center.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution communicates effectively between the referring and the receiving ends. The timeline view and referral status help in tracking the referral. Prompt reminders will never let you miss an appointment or follow-up. To know our solution better, schedule a demo with us.

Electronic Referral Management To Track Inbound Referrals Effectively

In a year, 15 billion faxes are sent out for referrals in the US. Referrals can be through fax, online forms, direct messaging, email, virtual print, direct walk-ins, etc but the maximum patient referrals are sent through fax. An imaging center or specialty practice or a dental center is a high referral inbound setup. Thousands of referrals flow in and they need an effective referral tracking system to manage the inbound referral traffic.

Let us consider an example to understand how an imaging center is managing the inbound referral traffic, Mr. Samuel is suffering from ear pain. The patient consults his Primary Care Provider who asks him to get an X-ray done. The PCP sends out a fax to the imaging center that contains the patient’s information and the diagnostic tests to be taken. At the imaging center, a referral coordinator has to receive, accept and process the request. The referral coordinator has to manually key in and create a referral, include all the patient information into the EMR/EHR/RIS. The referral coordinator takes around half an hour to process a referral request. The rate of processing is very slow. The referral coordinator finds it difficult to process even 20 referral faxes in a day. It results in piling up of faxes waiting to be processed. The referral coordinator is at loss trying to figure out why he/she is not able to close the referral loop. Patient referral leakage also becomes imminent.

Imaging Centers under constant pressure

An imaging center or a specialty practice gets numerous referrals in a day through phone calls, email, fax, patient walk-in etc. In most of the cases, it is through traditional fax. It is handled by a referral coordinator who redirects the referrals to the respective internal sections. They have an EMR/EHR/RIS in which the patient details will be taken if already present or they will have to key in all the details in the fax regarding the patient and the diagnosis required. As the number of faxes is piling, the time and effort required for them will be more. They are at loss in knowing how many referrals are done and missed. Entering the patient information and processing is a mammoth task and becomes tedious for them to manage manually.

Consequences of a slow referral network

  • The imaging center or specialty practice loses its revenue when referrals are not processed in time.
  • Providers stop referring the center thereby harming its reputation.
  • Patients may be severely ill and must be treated immediately. The waiting time may affect their health.

Problems faced

  • Handling many referrals manually in a short period of time.
  • Varied sources of referral make it difficult to get a comprehensive data about the referrals flowing in.
  • The time spent in processing a hard copy fax referral is more.
  • The information about the referral is limited and makes it difficult for the referral coordinator to proceed with the diagnosis.
  • It takes a lot of time for the center to contact the referring provider in case of doubts.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution at your aid

Patient Referral Management is complicated not only by the different sources but also by trying to manage all the referrals manually. The current referral management is no way close to the increasing demands of the referral process. Its inability to communicate between the referring and the receiving ends makes it slow and non-feasible. Relying on EHR/EMR/RIS for managing referrals makes it a costly affair and does not fulfill the optimal requirements of healthcare information technology for referral workflow management.

Electronic Referral Management has been creating buzz for quite a time. Many applications are looking to solve the referral process issues. Before choosing one, the following aspects must be considered.

  • Simplify data sources – Capable of handling numerous referrals from various sources and bringing it to a platform from where it can be processed.
  • Improve Efficiency – Closing the referral loop on time thus preventing patient referral leakage. This will improve the efficiency that is the number of referrals will be processed in a short span of time.
  • Data security – Sensitive patient data must be secured and protected.
  • Data Analytics – Complete analytics of the referrals flowing in, processed, missed etc.
  • Timeline View – To know the history of the referral and to what status it is attached to.
  • Integration with scheduler – To schedule appointments for the patients.
  • HIPAA Compliant – Secure data exchange of patient sensitive documents.

Any imaging center or specialty practice receives a number of referral requests in a day. The referrals usually have an attachment in pdf form which will be noneditable. They will have a form that has to be filled out with the details given in the referral. HealthViewX Patient  Referral Tracking System comes to play here. Using Optical Character Recognition(OCR) the information from the referral will be read and the form is prefilled with the required details. Now the referral coordinator can just validate the details and create a referral and assign it for further action. The referral information can also be channelized based on the request of the user for eg: Two referrals forms can be filled in if it concerns people in different locations. The solution can be integrated with EMR/EHR/RIS and can write the updated information back the system used by them.

Problems Addressed

  • Single Referral Workflow Queue Consolidation – Fax, Phone, Email, Website form referrals are captured, managed and monitored in a single interface. This helps in managing the referrals better.
  • OCR (Optical Character Recognition) – Helps in avoiding manual errors and reduces the referral processing time for referrals through eFax.
  • Timeline View – Both the center and the PCP can view the timeline data of the patient in which the referral history is present. Documents and notes can be attached anytime for one another’s reference.
  • To and fro Communication – At any time of the referral process, the PCP and the center can communicate with the help of the inbuilt secure messaging and voice call applications.
  • Referral Data Consolidation – The consolidated data regarding the referrals and the referral history of any patient can be printed as a hard copy at any time in pdf/excel.
  • Secure Data Management – HealthViewX Patient Referral Management is HIPAA compliant. All patient-related documents are managed securely.
  • Referral Analytics – Helps in tracking the number of referrals and gives complete information about the referrals processed, missed, scheduled etc with the help of a Referral Data-centric Dashboard.

HealthViewX Patient Referral Management solution is on par with the current referral network requirements of an imaging center or specialty practice. Are you an imaging center or a specialist practice looking to track your inbound referrals very effectively? To know about HealthViewX Patient Referral Management System in detail schedule a demo with our team.

3 Reasons Why A Referral Process Goes Incomplete

15 billion faxes are sent out for referrals every year and 50 percent of it never ends up in doctor visits. A referral cycle starts and ends with a general practitioner to ensure referral completion. When the loop is not closed then the referral is incomplete. Following are the reasons for incomplete referrals:

No Show

Referrals are made to provide better care for patients. It is their responsibility to meet the specialist to whom they are referred. Consider, if every 1 out of 3 patient referrals doesn’t turn up, there will be a huge loss to hospitals and to the consultant who spends their valuable time on this. In some cases, patients meet the specialist but fail to follow up with their referring physicians which makes them unable to close the referral loop they initiated. An incomplete referral means incomplete medical records.

Physicians who refer a patient to a specialist will send the detailed medical history of the patient which helps the specialist to identify the problem while diagnosing. After treatment, the specialist will send the report back to the physician and the physician will update the EMR. When this process is not completed then the patient record will not be updated. So closing the loop is an essential step because sometimes important details may be missed. If a patient wishes to see an outside provider with this incomplete record it may lead to medical errors.

Poor Physician Network

In a day, a physician makes a minimum of 10 to 20 referrals. But do you know whether your physician is making a correct referral or not? It is found that over 19 million clinically inappropriate physician referrals occur each year. The reason for a referral mistake is lack of secure and reliable communication channels between practices. Physicians should be more aware of their referral habits which will be useful in monitoring the problems in their workflow.

More than 65 percent of the physicians lack information about the specialists. Some physicians don’t even know that they have a specialist within their network and they refer their patient to outside providers resulting in losing their valuable patients which are called as referral leakage.
Relationship and networking are important in making correct referrals which helps to build trust and reduce leakage. Relationships and expertise will always help to provide excellent care.

No Improvement in Technology

Most of the hospitals still follow the paper-based method in their practice. To increase the revenue, hospitals should adapt to latest technologies. With technology, it is easy to overcome the above two problems.

Most of the follow-ups don’t happen because patients have forgotten about the scheduled meeting or they do not have time to meet the specialist. This problem can be solved by sending reminders about appointments and allowing them to fix their own appointments. Similarly, updating the specialist list will help physicians to identify the specialist availability and they can perform correct referrals.

It is not only technology and hospital processes that change time to time, but also patient’s mind changes due to external influences. Maintaining a correct patient record is important to give right treatment.
HealthviewX Referral Management Solution is an end-to-end referral workflow management platform which will keep PCPs in the referral loop and specialists can access all the necessary information they may require.