South Cove Community Health Center

Challenge

Coordination and Delivery of Quality Care

South Cove Community Center, founded in 1972 in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood, provides medical and behavioral health services, as well as youth and family programs, for nearly 30,000 non-English speaking patients downtown and in nearby Quincy. The center’s mission is to improve the health and well-being of all medically underserved state residents, with a special focus on Boston’s Asian-American population.

A few years ago, South Cove relied on piles of paper medical charts from regional healthcare providers to coordinate patient care at its four Boston-area facilities. The paper-based process constrained the operational efficiency and delivery of high-quality care that drive improved health outcomes.

South Cove realized it was time to adopt an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system despite the challenge it faced to obtain buy-in from physicians, nurses and clinical staff accustomed to working with paper files. Furthermore, intensive training on computer systems would be necessary to facilitate the move from paper to electronic patient data. 

Solution

Transition to Paperless with EHR Implementation

Supported by one of the nation’s Regional Extension Centers (RECs) at MeHI, South Cove implemented an EHR system designed by Westborough, MA-based eClinicalWorks (eCW). The EHR was interfaced with South Cove’s lab vendor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), enabling a successful transition to a paperless operation.

South Cove was recognized for its timely and comprehensive EHR adoption, earning the distinction as one of the first Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) in Massachusetts to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 1.

The MeHI REC has partnered with more than 3,000 primary care providers statewide, helping them adopt and optimize innovative health IT tools to transform their practices and deliver better health care. 

Impact

Increased Screenings and Improved Patient Management

South Cove’s switch to an EHR featuring a real-time lab interface that directly submits numeric results and progress notes into the EHR allowed the provider to accurately track high-risk and other patients due for follow-up visits and treatment.

From 2012 to 2013, South Cove increased the number of patients between the ages of 51 and 75 receiving colorectal cancer screenings from 58% to 73%.

During the same time period, the actionable electronic data delivered via the EHR lab interface also enabled South Cove to deliver the critical follow-up care required to control diabetes in 79% of its targeted patients, up from 73% prior to the EHR installation.

South Cove is building upon these improvements in workflow efficiency, care coordination, and high-quality delivery by extending its connection to the state’s Health Information Exchange (HIE), the Mass HIway. The connection empowers South Cove to expand its practice of electronic information sharing with BIDMC and collaborate with all healthcare provider partners across the Commonwealth.

“Participating in the HIE should make it much easier to collaborate with other agencies in terms of electronically receiving results, imaging, screenings and progress notes into our EHR. This will complete the journey of going paperless and allow our providers to have access to important information that might change the way they treat patients.”

— Brook Hailu, Quality Improvement Program Manager, South Cove Community Health Center