Automation a Win in Federally Qualified Health Clinic, ARcare
Providing the best in healthcare to patients located in rural areas, regardless of their ability to pay, is a worthy mission that comes with unique challenges. And yet, ARcare, a federally qualified health clinic (FQHC) that started in rural Arkansas in 1986, exists to do just that. The organization has since grown into a large network of providers and over 45 clinics in three states that collectively employs over 500 people.
The Need for Automated Clinic Outreach
FQHCs provide primary care and wellness services to underserved communities where many, if not most, patients are either under-insured or uninsured. Underserved communities often face unique challenges, including transportation and access to resources. This can be problematic as no-show rates are statistically higher across patient populations that live far away from clinic locations, don’t have reliable transportation, and are uninsured. In an FQHC, where volume is high and schedules are tight, a patient no-show creates problems for both patients who fall behind in their care and staff who have to scramble to adjust the schedule or who have lost considerable time preparing for a patient who never arrived.
Leisa Watkins, RN, and Certified Diabetes Educator, runs ARcare’s Diabetes Self Management Education program. The program is currently active across thirty-one ARcare clinics and is instrumental in helping patients manage their disease. Leisa explained,
“Our diabetes education program teaches patients behavior and lifestyle changes and provides community resources to promote self management with diabetes. Our educators are often driving up to an hour to provide education in rural clinic locations, so there’s a lot of wasted time and money if the educator gets to a clinic and a patient no-shows. We use appointment reminders to give patients the opportunity to confirm or reschedule their appointments to decrease no-shows and provide maximum access to our services. When a patient asks to cancel or reschedule, we fill the gap in the schedule from our waitlist, it keeps our schedule full and our educators busy”.
Leisa went on to share how automated communication with patients creates an opportunity to identify barriers to meeting their patients’ unique needs.
“When we call patients to get them rescheduled, we ask them, “how can I help you with whatever got in the way of making it to this appointment?” Transportation is often the number one barrier to appointment attendance. We can help patients with transportation through community resources which often includes our ARcare transportation service to and from appointments.”
Automation is key to patient engagement for FHQCs like ARcare who rely on federal funding. Establishing the same level of care and communication using manual processes would be cost-prohibitive and time intensive, tying up a great deal of staff who are already swamped and shouldering considerable responsibilities.
Automated Integration for Interoperability and Efficiency
ARcare looks to automation via Relatient to communicate with their patients in between appointments. ARcare utilizes an EHR built specifically for FQHCs, community clinics, and rural health clinics and Relatient complements this with integration that connects the two platforms. This means clinic managers can automate processes that would have previously been time intensive and expensive.
The integration opens the door for users to have access to products like automated patient appointment reminders, automated patient surveys and no-show outreach, as well as, Demand Messaging which allows for managers to quickly alert patients of last minute changes. Making it easy to engage with patients outside the clinic goes a long way in equipping FQHCs in the mission to improve the overall health of their communities through better chronic disease management, vaccine compliance, education, and patient communication.
Are you an FQHC, community clinic, or rural health clinic looking for ways to better communicate with your patients? Give us a call at (866) 473-8160 or request a demo.