Federally-qualified health centers, or FQHCs, are an integral part of the national healthcare landscape. By providing care for certain underserved populations, FQHCs are a crucial partner in the fight to close gaps in patient care across U.S. healthcare.
As recent years have seen care providers pivot toward value-based care, many FQHCs are well-positioned to serve a substantial patient population’s rising demand for primary care. But achieving success in this space requires adequate performance under the Uniform Data System – or UDS – reporting. All FQHCs are required to submit UDS reports- and their performance in these metrics often has an outsize impact on their reimbursement.
In today’s healthcare marketplace, tools and best practices exist to help FQHCs improve their performance measures. These tools not only streamline the mandated UDS reporting process by eliminating painstaking, manual, and error-prone input processes, they also help cut through mounds of data to present simple views, allowing healthcare staff to identify issues and opportunities for improvement. Armed with these insights well in advance of reporting deadlines, dashboards enable FQHC leadership to act to improve performance metrics before they are evaluated –increasing reimbursement and avoiding leaving money on the table.
Common Pitfalls to FQHC Performance
Leadership at FQHCs – indeed, at medical practices in general – know the crunch that can come at the end of a reporting cycle. With staff and leadership having their hands full with the already immense day-to-day responsibilities of running the practice, the reporting of data can get backed up and left aside for more pressing matters throughout the cycle. When the time finally comes to put together a management report with the necessary reporting measures, data may be disorganized, missing, scattered across a number of different reports, or all the above. This puts practice staff up against a wall at the end of the cycle, struggling to put together even a semi-passable report – with the performance metrics that they were able to collect likely not presenting an accurate picture of all of the patient and population successes the practice is having.
The Importance of a Quality UDS Data Reporting Framework
The government and private entities which fund FQHCs through grants and other contributions do so with stipulations and requirements – namely, that the health center receiving the grant meets performance thresholds in certain measures. These measures are outlined and standardized under the Uniform Data System, a reporting and performance measuring system for FQHCs and their look-alikes developed by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. In addition, metrics or measures may be determined by independent grant providers, as well.
Getting a UDS-compliant reporting framework in place can be a significant undertaking. It often requires many labor hours of work from analysts, IT specialists, data professionals and more to set up a system which gathers, assembles and displays the information and metrics your FQHC needs to track. And achieving oversight of this UDS performance data is only the first step.
FQHC Dashboards to Help Inform Strategy
“Technology is necessary, but not sufficient to achieving an FQHC’s overall performance goals,” said Darline El Reda, Medical Advantage’s Vice President of Population Health and healthcare dashboards expert. “The delivery of a report should be the beginning of ongoing processes. These data paint a picture of how we’re doing, in which UDS metrics we’re doing well and in which we can improve – but it’s then up to staff and leadership to enact workflow changes to address what the data is telling us.”
“IT solutions alone won’t improve [FQHC] performance and viability. Successful leaders know that the solutions chosen should support and accelerate the FQHC’s business and clinical goals,” reads the Sage Growth Partners whitepaper.
Once your FQHC has its dashboard solution in place – powered behind the scenes by a data reporting framework aggregating reports from your EHR, clinical, claims, and patient databases in one place – readouts and oversight of your health center’s performance will be at your fingertips. Then, problem areas needing to be rectified will become clear, and staff and leadership will have a chance to act to improve them – before your FQHC’s performance is evaluated by grant funding agencies.
Navigating and maximizing your health center’s performance in the uncertain world of grant funding can be a challenge, but with an effective financial dashboard solution, practice operations and performance can be optimized – resulting in both better care for patients and bolstered chances of receiving funding from grant applications.
Medical Advantage Can Help
“The streamlining of Medical Advantage’s custom dashboard solutions helps bridge the gap between the EHR and billing departments,” said Julie Chiesa, one of Medical Advantage’s expert consultants. “We’re programming it on the EHR side – listening to the needs and workflows of the EHR team – and that crosses over to billing and takes a lot of work out of their day. Our dashboards make it easier for both staff and practice leadership to gain oversight over what’s going on in the practice.”
Medical Advantage’s team of expert consultants have years of experience consulting and assisting FQHCs on improvements in all aspects of operations. From EHR selection, optimization, and troubleshooting – to the synthetization and analysis of claims, EHR, financial and patient data – and finally to consulting and service solutions to help improve measures on grant-stipulated performance metrics, Medical Advantage’s team can help. Talk to one of our experts today about how our solutions can help your FQHC enhance operations, offer better care, and leave less money on the table.