The Family Health Centers at NYU Langone surpassed several national quality care benchmarks last year, demonstrating its ability to provide high-quality care to the most vulnerable of patients—even during a challenging year. As a result of these achievements, Healthfirst, New York state’s largest not-for-profit Medicaid health insurer, recently ranked the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone a top performer among more than 30 Medicaid providers across the state.
“Quality at its best is a shared understanding between a patient and their care providers about what steps are needed to achieve optimal health,” says Isaac P. Dapkins, MD, chief medical officer of the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone. “To turn this ideal scenario into a reality, we created a workflow that reminds and educates patients about their wellness appointments on a rolling basis.”
“Last year we performed better than ever before, which is a remarkable accomplishment during one of the most challenging years in our 54-year history,” says Larry K. McReynolds, executive director of the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone. “Data show that we continued to provide routine healthcare services in a safe environment and addressed any concerns patients had about coming into a medical office during the pandemic.”
Community Health Center Ensures Patients Maintain Preventive and Routine Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic
While the full impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on community health remains unsettled, it has already led to a national epidemic of delayed health screenings, worsened chronic conditions, and decreased routine vaccinations.
At the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone, however, performance metrics indicate improvement in these specific areas of concern as well as many others.
Of note, by the end of last year, 74 percent of the centers’ eligible pediatric patients attended their well-visit appointments and received scheduled vaccinations, greatly exceeding the national average benchmark of 39 percent. The centers also surpassed benchmarks for reducing the rates of uncontrolled diabetes (below 32 percent) and cervical cancer screenings (more than 57 percent).
New Population Health Process Helps Close Gaps in Care
One of the primary ways the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone achieved these positive outcomes was through the creation of a new population health management alert in its electronic health record (EHR) that helps close gaps in care for chronic disease treatment, prevention, and wellness.
The new EHR alert, first piloted in 2017, helps to remind physicians and staff about overdue or outstanding appointments for immediate follow-up, transforming the former process that relied on manually created spreadsheets. The alert system is triggered when a patient is due for a series of preventive care appointments, like an annual physical exam, a gastroenterology consultation for colon cancer screening, or a mammogram for breast cancer screening.
“This process standardizes care at the population health management level, so no patient is left behind,” says Rasheda V. Prescott, MD, Family Health Centers at NYU Langone physician informaticist. “It is incredibly rewarding to see Health IT bridge the gap between patients and healthcare; especially during a pandemic, when so many around the globe lost access to preventive health services.”
Timely and proactive routine screenings are important to curtail disease progression for conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. If a patient requires further testing or treatment, they have access to a wide network of specialists through the Family Health Centers and NYU Langone Health. EHR-integrated video visits also are available for certain appointments, at the discretion of the care provider.
“We’ve brought our care to the next level since joining NYU Langone,” says McReynolds. “The EHR is a major component, and we’re also working as part of the NYUPN Clinically Integrated Network on Medicaid-managed plans that are tied to performance, which has contributed to best practices.”
“Additionally, we are grateful to our local, state, and federal representatives for their ongoing commitment to support programs that sustain us and enable us as a community health center to provide high-quality care to the local populations we serve,” adds McReynolds.
Becoming a Patient at the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone
Principally located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, one of the highest Medicaid-concentrated communities in the United States, the Family Health Centers at NYU Langone is a community-based program providing high-quality primary and preventive outpatient care to adults and children, regardless of their ability to pay or health insurance status. The program serves approximately 100,000 patients each year throughout Brooklyn and other parts of New York City.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is currently open, providing individuals an opportunity to enroll in Healthfirst or another qualifying health insurance plan.
Deborah “DJ” Haffeman