Federally Qualified Health Center Shares EHR Success Story

August 16, 2012

Carrie Kindleberger, RN and Electronic Medical Record Trainer at Centro de Salud Esperanza, a Federally Qualified Health Center in Little Village, sat down with us to talk about Esperanza’s journey toward Meaningful Use. Centro de Salud Esperanza went live on NextGen as part of the eNet user group in March, 2012, and recently opened a second health clinic focusing on women’s health services and pediatric medicine.  

“We are making steady progress every day and want to continue to work hard to make the best use of our EHR.” - Carrie Kindleberger

What challenges has the health clinic encountered with the EHRs?

“Implementing the EHR is such a huge change to the way the clinic functions—documentation is so important to what we do in healthcare! Such a profound change in how we work day to day rightly brings up a lot of concerns for providers and staff. I think this is the fundamental challenge to implementation: how do we organize the process in such a way that supports providers and staff during this huge change to their work? Of course, there are many little challenges, particularly as a small nonprofit health center, to implementing a new system.”

Now that a new site has been opened, how will EHRs work there?

“Our new clinic was all EHRs from the start! Previous records for patients were preloaded and scanned into the system, but we trained providers before the clinic opened. Having a second site, we can see a huge benefit to electronic records—whereas before we would have had to fax paper records from one site to the other, with EHRs, both sites have access to all of Esperanza’s electronic records.”

How do you inform your patients about EHRs?

“We have a short letter signed by all of the providers at our clinic explaining the transition to EHRs. We wanted patients to know that we were in this transition with patient care in mind.”

What kind of culture and language conflicts have you faced?

“I feel proud to work at a health center that understands the specific cultural and linguistic needs of the community we serve and is able to meet them. One frustration we’ve had with our EHR system is the lack of materials available in Spanish. We are required by Meaningful Use to hand out clinical summaries to patients after each visit—unfortunately, those summaries are in English only.”

Would you describe EHRs at Esperanza as a success story?

“I’m really pleased with the process so far, I’m proud of all the work everyone at the clinic has put into planning and implementation. I think we are still in the early stages of the transition, but we are seeing results already. But I don’t think the job is done yet! We are making steady progress every day and want to continue to work hard to make the best use of our EHR. Now that all of our providers and staff are trained, we are working on an interface with our laboratory and the hospital and gathering documentation in order to attest for Meaningful Use.”