Over 1,000 Facilities in Medically Underserved Communities Are Now Connected to eCR
Electronic case reporting decreases the reporting burden traditionally handled manually by healthcare facility and public health staff. Any decrease in this burden will be especially helpful to facilities that treat residents in under-resourced communities. To advance health equity, the eCR team helps public health agencies apply a health equity lens to their recruitment of healthcare organizations. Examples include recruiting Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which treat groups who have been socially and economically marginalized. As a result, over 1,000 FQHC sites and similar sites have been connected and are now sending data through electronic case reporting.
These community-based healthcare providers meet the requirements of the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Health Center Program to provide primary care services in under-resourced areas. Their locations include Urban Indian Healthcare Organization facilities, sites treating people experiencing homelessness, school-based and youth-focused clinics, addiction treatment facilities, facilities providing care to elderly people in the community, and clinics treating farm workers.
How eCR Advances Health Equity
eCR provides fast, complete data to public health, which helps agencies make data-driven decisions in communities that are under-resourced. eCR also reduces the reporting burden for healthcare providers in these communities, allowing them to spend more time with patients.
eCR addresses information gaps and advances health equity in three ways:
- It impacts data availability. More complete data about under-resourced or marginalized populations can lead to more accurate health assessments as well as data-driven interventions.
- It affects whose case data are reported. By connecting healthcare facilities treating people who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and systemic health inequities, eCR helps ensure that their case reports are being sent to public health for review and action.
- It can impact who receives the data. By supporting public health agencies that serve under-resourced communities in connecting to the eCR infrastructure and receiving eCR data, eCR provides access to better data about their residents.
Examples of Success
The eCR team has connected over 1,000 FQHC sites and similar sites across dozens of states to electronic case reporting. With eCR data from these facilities, public health agencies can use the clinical patient data from eCRs to provide preventive health programming in the communities that need it the most.
For example, one partner, OCHIN (formerly the Oregon Community Health Information Network), includes 655 FQHC sites and similar sites across 34 states. Within the network, organizations like Boston Healthcare for the Homeless and the Native American Health Center are closing the gap in health for individuals and communities negatively impacted by structural inequities.
Other partner organizations include ACCESS Community Health Network, a network of 35 FQHC sites that provide primary care, mental health services, telehealth, and care management to individuals and families in primarily under-resourced communities in Chicago. Similarly, San Francisco Health Network has 14 locations that provide primary care, dental care, urgent care, and mental health and substance abuse services to residents regardless of immigration status or lack of insurance.
The eCR team has a goal of connecting at least half of FQHC service site locations by 2026. To achieve this, the team is working with public health agencies to help them identify and connect with FQHCs in their jurisdictions.
The team also has identified the five electronic health record (EHR) products used most frequently by FQHCs and is working with those EHR vendors to enable eCR capabilities in their products.
The team’s prioritization of connecting FQHCS to electronic case reporting advances CDC’s health equity goals and protects the health of all individuals and families across the nation.