Sandra Brown Brings Providers on Board and Uses Health IT to Improve Patient Care
Sandra Brown is Chief Executive Officer at Jefferson Comprehensive Care System, Inc. (JCCSI), a Federally-Qualified Health Center headquartered in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The health system’s six sites provide primary and dental care and serve 11,500 patients, approximately 7,000 of whom are uninsured and underserved. With Nurse Brown’s leadership, JCCSI implemented an electronic health record (EHR) system and began using the system to improve health care quality.
Building Provider Buy-In
When Nurse Brown took over responsibility for JCCSI’s EHR implementation, she worked hard to develop and implement the system. But system implementation was only the first step. Nurse Brown knew it was also critical to get providers to buy into the EHR system. JCCSI’s providers expressed concerns about the cost of EHRs and a preference to continue recording patient data with pencil and paper. “Our providers had practiced medicine for so long with paper charts,” explained Nurse Brown. “Initially, they saw Health IT as an unnecessary burden.”
To get providers to buy in to the EHR system, Nurse Brown created an EHR implementation task force. The task force included representatives from each of JCCSI’s six sites and met regularly to discuss JCCSI’s Health IT and quality improvement initiatives. Additionally, the task force brought in representatives from JCCSI’s EHR vendor to train providers and staff members on the EHR system. “The task force was the first step to getting everyone moving forward and working together,” explained Nurse Brown. Over time, the education efforts and encouragement paid off. JCCSI providers bought in to the EHR system and began working with Nurse Brown to improve health care quality.
Improved Health Care Quality
The first step to improved health care quality for Nurse Brown and her colleagues was establishing baseline measures around several key health care quality improvement indicators, such as blood pressure measurement rates and diabetes foot screening rates. “Health IT helped us see the whole picture,” said Nurse Brown. “It enabled us to evaluate our patient population and our performance so we could identify areas for health care quality improvement.” JCCSI saw room for improvement and decided to focus on improving preventive screening rates. Under Nurse Brown’s leadership, the health system began generating lists of patients by condition. Using the patient lists, JCCSI’s providers can quickly and efficiently identify which patients need preventive care. For example, the EHR-generated lists enabled JCCSI’s providers to track foot screening rates for patients with diabetes and identify patients who needed screenings. “In this case, our EHR system helped us recognize that we could do more for our patients with diabetes to prevent complications like diabetic neuropathy,” said Nurse Brown.
Nurse Brown plans to continue encouraging JCCSI’s providers to find innovative ways to use EHR data to improve health care quality. Her ability to foster an office culture of data-led quality improvement has also opened doors for JCCSI to participate in other health initiatives, including the National Committee for Quality Assurance Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) initiative. “With Health IT and PCMH, our goal is improved patient outcomes,” explained Nurse Brown.