Q&A with Stewart Barre, MD, CEO of Care Health
While Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) care for patients much like a standard hospital or clinic, they have a business model that places an added emphasis on patient data reporting for sustainability and success.
FQHCs care for patients in an under-served location or for a specific population of patients and are largely funded by government programs and grants, which require quality benchmarks to be met prior to reimbursement. This reporting structure places a tremendous burden on FQHC administrators to have access to and become incredibly familiar with their patient data.
Steward Barre, MD, CEO of Care Health in South Carolina, answered a few question about how he has simplified the FQHC patient data reporting processes with Corepoint Integration Engine. Gaining control of the data processed by their EHR, athenahealth, at every Care Health clinic provides Dr. Barre with the ability to confidently report on specific patient criteria and ensure his organization receives the maximum reimbursement possible.
Dr. Barre: Much of what we're trying to do is figure out ways that data can drive decision-making.
The FQHC (federally qualified health center) world is very grant-oriented and government-driven. Every year FQHCs are required to report in what's called the Uniform Data System, which asks many questions about our patients that increase in complexity.
The UDS also asks questions about payers, including Medicaid, Medicare, private, and self-pay. The UDS asks questions that require the data to be parsed and combined in many different ways, which requires us to have the ability to group elements, ungroup elements, etc.
For people who are in the data business, these are fairly simple data requests. But, if you don't have the information, you can't answer any of the questions. Corepoint Integration Engine gives us access to that needed data in a usable format.
Absolutely. We’ve used the numbers to find interesting ways to increase market share in various cities and regions. The data has also improved our numbers with payers. The insights showed us where we’re either sinking or swimming, profit-wise, and make the appropriate business decisions that produce positive results
I think small and large FQHCs have different needs when it comes to an integration engine. The smaller organizations really want access to the data for reporting, like I describe before. Corepoint is how they get the needed data.
The bigger FQHCs usually have more technical staff members with analytics experience, so their needs for an engine will be different. Larger FQHCs have skilled staff who can create custom code to get the data they need. However, if they rely on custom code written by a specialist on staff, what happens to that code if that person leaves for another job? They’re left twisting in the wind and hoping everything continues to work as designed.
Using an integration engine provides larger FQHAs with two benefits: really good error handling with a good dashboard to track data, and peace of mind that business operations don’t rely on one or two individual team members. It truly is a money and time issue.
The most positive attribute of Corepoint is not how much you use it, it's how much you don't. Once you set it up, no news is good news. It's great to use if you're creating new things every day, but most organizations don’t do that. Corepoint runs like a watch and you don't have to touch it.
I use it for processing and for reconciling financial activity every month, which is a complicated process without the engine.
Running an FQHC is not like running a retail store. We have items that are in flux, items that need to be recoded and go back out, money that's basically in quarantine because we haven't met some provision required by a payer so it goes to accounts receivable and held captive, etc. It can be messy and complicated.
We used to download Excel spreadsheets from the EHR and try to overlap them from month to that month to see discrepancies. Now I use Corepoint to extract the same report once a month, parse the data the way I want it, and save it in to a database, which makes it much easier to compare data and find what I’m looking for.
I did everything myself after taking Corepoint’s Level 1 training, which gave me enough knowledge to be proficient in basic engine functions. The Support team at Corepoint has also been phenomenal.
When you call Corepoint, the person who answers the phone is the person who's going to fix your problem. When I tell that to other FQHCs, they look at me with disbelief. But it’s true. The person who answers the phone at Corepoint Health is not a machine, is not located in another country – it’s the person who's going to fix your problem without transferring you to someone else. That has more selling power than just about anything else.