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Vida Y Salud-Health Systems, Inc. is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) based in Crystal City, Texas. The center provides primary health care, dental services and other outpatient services to a rural population of about 12,000 residents within the county of Zavala and the contiguous surrounding counties. The center’s annual patient count of 6,551 generates approximately 24,000 encounters annually.
The center is led by CEO, Dr. Carlos Moreno, who actively serves within the FQHC community. In addition to the main site in Crystal City, the center has two school-based programs: The Crystal City ISD School-Based Clinic and the La Pryor Texas ISD School/Community-Based Clinic that provides services for the school in addition to the La Pryor community residents.
In 2001, the center received federal funding it had previously applied for to carry out the implementation of a Practice Management (PM) system and an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system. The objectives of the project were: supporting the center’s quality initiative goals of improving the center’s billing and reimbursement process; enhancing patient flow efficiencies; medical records documentation; patient safety; enhancing patient outcomes reporting capabilities. From a bidding pool of products offered by six vendors, CGM ENTERPRISE EHR was chosen based on it’s flexibility, user-friendly features and pricing structure.
“We felt that CGM ENTERPRISE EHR could cater to our unique needs as an FQHC. Our goal was to commit to a PM product with the ability to handle our unique revenue management cycle and reporting requirements such as: sliding fee discounts, support for multiple encounter charge slips by service type, and UDS reporting. In regard to the EHR component, we were looking to create custom medical and dental templates with patient safety features such as Rx contraindication alerts. Also, documentation tools such as the EM Code Generator that helps level the CMS office visit and the Patterns feature that speeds up documentation,“ says Chief Information Officer, Rick S. Lopez.
The implementation process was carried out in phases to accommodate the unique training needs of Vida Y Salud Health Systems' staff and to minimize any potential disruption of patient or revenue flow.
It immediately became evident that the center had made the right decision.
CGM ENTERPRISE PM greatly enhanced the center’s reimbursement cycle with revenue enhancing functionality such as electronic claims submission and electronic payment remittance. These improved the center’s cash flow tremendously.
The center was once again a pioneer among peers in 2004 when it became one of only three community health centers in Texas to have fully implemented an EHR solution at all of its clinic sites.
The early implementation of CGM ENTERPRISE EHR allowed three eligible providers, to qualify for Meaningful Use incentive payments. This occurred in the program’s first year of eligibility and the center received a total of $64,800 in incentive funds.
Adopting CGM ENTERPRISE created multiple tangible benefits. Migrating to a paperless system gave the center some significant cost savings. For instance, it eliminated the purchase of supplies previously used for patient charts and it freed up much needed space that housed a large paper-based patient chart filing system.
The system’s interface with a digital radiology Picture Archival Computer System (PACS) allowed the center to communicate remotely via a VPN connection to an off-site radiologist.
The center leveraged this benefit in its negotiations with prospective radiologists and obtained cost savings of about $25,000 in the contractual agreement. Additional cost savings of about $40,000 were also realized from the elimination of procuring x-ray film development chemicals and supplies.
The system’s interface to the digital radiology PACS allowed total cost savings of about $65,000 for the center.
Specific features and functionality of CGM ENTERPRISE that add great value to the center’s operations include: the Patient Locator in the EHR system that allows physicians to see on a single screen, where patients are and how long they have been in each clinic area; Progress Notes which allow for a single page view of patient information for use by a physician as documentation progresses; the Patient Referral Tracking System that facilitates scheduling, tracking and thus allows for compliance with continuity of patient care; the Complete Chart and Formal Patient Records features that facilitate the sharing of patient medical information with providers.
“Beyond the features of CGM ENTERPRISE, the ability to adapt built-in templates to suit the needs of the center plays a very important role for us. We’ve been able to standardize our templates across the organization to facilitate the successful fulfillment of our regulatory reporting requirements,” Rick says.
As the center’s needs evolve, the solutions remain equally adaptable.
“The center’s EHR/PM managers take advantage of CGM’s monthly training webinars to ensure continuity in the proficiency of our internal users. The support team behind the CGM ENTERPRISE solution continues to rise to the occasion as our own needs evolve,” Rick says.