Free Clinics Going High Tech
"How are you doing today?" asks retired cardiologist Dr. Roger Smith who volunteers at the Charlotte Community Health Clinic. He is here every week and loves to help people. But here is the other side of health care. It's a wall of paper, folders representing more than 4,000 patients and staff is needed to check and keep up with all that paper.
Nancy Hudson, Executive Director of Charlotte Community Health Clinic says employees have to keep track of a lot. "Not only get the labs in there the diagnostics in there any kind of encounter form with the doctor or the physician and being sure the meds are straight."
Health care this way most agree is inefficient. But going high tech through computers and smart phones, where doctors draw on diagrams, where alerts pop up for potential drug interactions, where medical records can be accessed in emergencies is financially daunting if not impossible for these clinics.
H. Brent Sanders, VP Allscripts says "those are the ones that have the hardest time paying for an electronic medical record and implementing it and learning how to use it well those things are all taken care by this program."
That program is called NC Path. Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina in partnership with the medical software company Allscripts will pay for the electronic conversion for 39 free clinics. They will also pay for five years of support for those free clinics in the state including this one.
Could the clinic have done this on its own? Hudson says "no, I raise a lot of money over the year and Blue Cross Blue Shield has been a stellar partner for the free clinics of NC.
Sanders says "we hope to get a number of free clinics and primary providers up and running and enabled by the end of the year and a majority of these practices will be up and running in 2012."