Bilingual FQHC Achieves A1C Reduction for Patients Using Automated Technology to Scale
Population Health Outreach
A Federally Qualified Health Center
Specialties: Primary Care, Women’s Health, Behavioral Health, and Dental Services
Improve outcomes for patients
Greater reduction in A1C for
The client is a Federally Qualified Health Center offering integrated, diverse, and bilingual care in southern Pennsylvania. The FQHC’s roots began as a social service agency for vulnerable adults and families as Latino workers migrated to the area for jobs in the mushroom industry. Today, the FQHC provides primary care, women’s health, behavioral health, and dental services for their patients—with or without insurance.
The health center’s patient population remains 85% Latino, and nearly 60% have no health insurance. As a nonprofit FQHC, their care team is dedicated to delivering quality and affordable healthcare for all. But, social determinants of health often negatively impact their patient population’s ability to access the care they need and deserve.
Both transportation challenges and financial barriers limit their patients’ ability to visit the doctor during the workday or fill prescriptions. For many, missing work to attend a doctor’s appointment results in lost pay. And, medications and supplies to manage a chronic disease are often expensive and challenging to navigate.
These barriers to care prompt the center to be creative when it comes to finding new ways to reach their patients in the ways that work best for them.
As a nonprofit FQHC, the care team is dedicated to delivering quality and affordable healthcare for all. The patient population remains 85% Latino, and nearly 60% have no health insurance.
In November 2018, the center partnered with Lifescan and Providertech to launch a pilot study that used technology to improve outcomes for patients with diabetes.
As part of the study, Lifescan provided a group of the center’s diabetic patients with a bluetooth-enabled blood glucose monitor and a smartphone. The glucose monitor allowed patients to monitor their glucose level at regular intervals and automatically transmit results to their care team without having to come into the doctor’s office.
Tracking, logging, and sharing glucose levels with a primary care team can be a tedious process for patients and a frustrating one for providers attempting to make clinical decisions on chronic disease management.
The blood glucose results were also easier-to-understand for their population who struggles with health literacy, as the device used colors to deliver results, rather than numbers. Red indicated if numbers were too high, blue indicated if numbers were too low, and green indicated that numbers were where they needed to be.
The data was then instantaneously synced to a website that allowed the center’s clinical team to monitor each individual’s glucose level and respond with personalized interventions via text message based on what they saw. Every week, the center’s care team would review the synced data and leverage Providertech’s technology solution to communicate with their patients using text messages. Text messages were customized based on the patient’s data and ranged from messages affirming that they were doing great to messages that offered tips to get them back on track. Others prompted them to change their insulin dosage or call the office to discuss their medication.
“Receiving a text is quicker and more convenient than answering the phone, and since our patients are working during the day, we were able to reach them in a nonintrusive way. The texts made it easier and faster for them to respond.” – Johana G., Study Coordinator at the FQHC
Since automating population health outreach for the diabetes study, the health center has observed positive results across patient outcomes and clinical workflow.
“Anecdotally, we’ve seen a greater reduction in A1C for patients participating in the study compared to our traditional patient group,” noted the medical director and primary care physician at the center. Operationally, the automated text messages saved the office time and resulted in an increase in response rates compared to traditional follow up via phone.
“Receiving a text is quicker and more convenient than answering the phone, and since our patients are working during the day, we were able to reach them in a non-intrusive way. The texts made it easier and faster for them to respond,” said the study coordinator.
Providertech’s automated patient outreach platform allowed the FQHC to deliver patient-specific messages at scale while also saving time and resources by replacing manual communication efforts.
The automation also contributed to better clinical time management as the office was able to monitor their patients seamlessly throughout the day while they continued to care for other patients face-to-face.
“Providertech’s technology platform was easy to manage and worked perfectly for the study, “ added the study coordinator.
Official study results will be released at the end of the year. In the meantime, the center continues to partner with Providertech to increase outreach and engagement for both chronic disease and wellness initiatives within their patient population.
decrease in time spent confirming appointments
With Providertech’s help, we achieved a 75% decrease in time spent manually confirming appointments, helping us to more efficiently engage our patients using the resources we already had.
Amy Bastianelli |
Director of Population Health, La Communidad Hiispana