Highlights from the National Association of Community Health Centers’ Com­mu­nity Health Insti­tute & Expo

CipherHealth recently attended the National Association of Community Health Centers’ (NACHC) Com­mu­nity Health Insti­tute & Expo, the largest annual gath­er­ing of health cen­ter clin­i­cians, exec­u­tives, con­sumer board mem­bers as well as Health Cen­ter Con­trolled Net­works and State/Regional Pri­mary Care Asso­ci­a­tions.

The conference explored numerous key themes and challenges facing FQHCs today:

  • The transition to Value-Based Payment reform
  • Identifying and addressing social determinants of health
  • Integrating mental health and substance use
  • Comprehensive patient engagement and care management

Representatives from NCQA and The Joint Commission additionally addressed the role of modern-day health technology systems and tools play in meeting PCMH accreditation requirements, such as instituting appointment reminders, addressing preventive health, and tracking patient progress towards treatment goals. They discussed the redesigned PCMH 2017 requirements, highlighting improved focus and flexibility, continuous practice transformation, updating documentation processes, and comprehensive and integrated care.

These key points aim to reinforce PCMH operational characteristics of patient-centricity, team-based coordination, enhanced access to care, and a systems-based approach to quality and safety.

Addressing Substance Abuse and the Growing Opioid Epidemic
Substance use disorders (SUDs) and the growing opioid epidemic in the United States was another key theme of the NACHC CHI Expo. Representatives from Watts Healthcare and UCLA’s Department of Psychiatry discussed the vital role FQHCs can play in treating patients with SUDs and the innovative ways to integrate behavioral health treatment with primary care services. This is as important as ever when 20.8 million people in the United States are living with a Substance Use Disorder. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that more than 50,000 drug overdose deaths occurred in 2016, most of which involved an opioid. Since 1999, the number of opioid-related drug deaths has more than quadrupled.

The Impact of Social Determinants of Health
Additionally, in accordance with the World Health Organization, certain social determinants of health can lead to a disproportionate impact on the drug and opioid epidemic among underserved communities. Low birth weights, homelessness, and domestic violence, for example, are risk factors that FQHCs are primed to address with their patients. With the right tools and programs in place, FQHCs are positioned to make a significant impact in the communities they serve, particularly in bridging disparities for at-risk and vulnerable patients. New state and federal grant funding streams, such as state DSRIP programs, support the integration of behavioral health and primary care. Co-location of services allow clinics to employ new strategies around treating mental health and substance use disorders within the primary care space, including standardization of screenings, care management, and addressing social determinants of health.

With a commitment to help our partners serve their most at-risk patients through our innovative patient engagement technologies, CipherHealth is excited to partner with FQHCs to address the needs of underserved communities.

We’ll see you at the next NACHC conference in March 2018!

CipherHealth empowers providers across the care continuum to deliver enhanced patient experiences and communications through a modular, comprehensive patient engagement technology platform.