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HIMSS Davies Awards 2018: El Rio Health Improves Diabetes Care

doctor and patient speak during eye exam

Diabetic retinopathy is a common condition that affects blood vessels within the retina. It is the most common cause of vision loss among individuals with diabetes, and a leading cause of vision impairment and blindness among working-age adults, according to the National Eye Institute.

El Rio Community Health Center recognized the seriousness of this issue and found that only 30 percent of their patients with diabetes were adhering to screening for the condition. The organization worked to address this issue by embracing technology that would allow specialty services to be integrated into the primary care workflow. The overall goal was to improve health outcomes and quality measures for people living with diabetes.

El Rio started by exploring innovative retinal screening cameras, while considering important factors like quality, size, price and ease of use. To determine where these cameras would be physically located, El Rio leveraged data analytics to determine availability for locations of cameras and the impact on patients living with diabetes who had not completed the service.

The working group created a proposal based on these findings, which was then reviewed by senior leadership. Once approved, cameras were purchased, and workflows were developed and reviewed with clinical leadership. To emphasize the importance of this screening for diabetic patients, sensitivity training was provided for staff. Additionally, photographers were trained, certified and available during the highest volume times to provide this screening when a patient needed it.

As a result, El Rio Community Health Center was able to improve the percent of patients living with diabetes who completed the retinopathy screening from 30 percent to 63 percent over approximately 18 months.

Success was attributed to the ease of tracking outcomes with health information technology, in addition to the wide availability of cameras at health centers with large diabetic patient populations in need of the exam. These changes have resulted in patients with abnormal eye pathology getting more timely screening and subsequent care.

The increased rate of screening also prompted the question regarding expansion of this service to more clinic sites. Now more than 3,000 patients living with diabetes now have another option to complete this important screening test.

HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence

The HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence recognizes outstanding achievement of organizations that have utilized health information technology to substantially improve patient outcomes and value. The HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence is the pinnacle of the HIMSS Value Recognition Program and highlights organizations promoting health information and technology-enabled improvements in patient and business outcomes through sharing evidence-driven best practices on implementation strategies, workflow design, change management and patient engagement.

“Size and operating capital are not barriers to delivering quality care,” said Jonathan French, CPHIMS, senior director of quality and patient safety at HIMSS. “El Rio leveraged analytics tools to identify where the greatest need for diagnostic medical devices was within their patient population, and then used that data to make purchasing and implementation decisions. By getting diagnostics to their patients, El Rio sped up diagnostic testing, allowing for earlier interventions to combat diabetes and other chronic conditions. For their information and technology enabled care improvements for the medically underserved population of Tucson and the surrounding area, HIMSS is proud to recognize El Rio Community Health Center as a Davies Community Health Award recipient.”

“El Rio Health was thrilled to have received the HIMSS Davies Award of Excellence for 2018. It is truly a mark of excellence in the healthcare IT industry to be granted this recognition,” said Robin Tenenbaum, Information Technology Director at El Rio Community Health Center. “We recognize the value of health information technology each day as we serve the patients in our community. In utilizing the right technology, we are able to improve quality and business outcomes, drive efficiencies, increase value based care revenue, and share data electronically with our community partners. El Rio Health will continue to look at utilizing innovative and emerging technology platforms to drive efficiencies and provide a world class experience for our patients and staff.”

El Rio Community Health Center will be recognized during the 2019 HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition, February 11-15 in Orlando, Florida.

Learn more about how El Rio Community Health Center has embraced the value of health information and technology: explore three award-winning use cases.