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Northwest Michigan Health Services, Inc.
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SuccessEHS Electronic Health Record  COMPLETED


Since its inception in 1968 as a Migrant Health Center, Northwest Michigan Health Services has stayed true to its mission of serving migrant and seasonal farmworkers and remains one of the longest serving Community Health Centers in Michigan. Service sites are located in Traverse City (Grand Traverse County), Shelby (Oceana County), and Bear Lake (Manistee County). In 2013, Northwest’s Board of Directors made the strategic decision to move from a migrant-only Health Center to a full Community Health Center. This decision was based, in part, on emerging utilization patterns and the community’s desire to more fully access this community resource. The Board’s decision brought about many challenges, including recruiting providers and support staff, negotiating contracts with third party payers, enhancing billing systems, and upgrading Electronic Health Records (EHR). As a full Community Health Center, clinic-based services will consist of primary medical care, dental, behavioral health, health education, case management, and community outreach and enrollment. An essential element of these enhanced community services is a modern EHR system, which is the focus of this proposal.

  • Location:  10767 Traverse Highway, Traverse City, Michigan
  • Contact:  Linda Shively, CEO | 231.861.2130
  • Project Cost:  $178,000

Meeting Community Need, Increasing Access, Expanding Services

In the Traverse City service area, 28,885 people (27.4% of the population) are low-income as determined by federal poverty standards, and are not presently being served by a Health Center. In the Shelby service area, 6,835 of the low-income population (representing 32% of the population) do not currently access the services of a Health Center. Northwest’s decision to transition from a migrant-only to a full-service Health Center will have a measurable impact on this problem of access to care.

National averages data show that a medical provider will have 22 encounters per day, a dentist 18 encounters per day. With its 3 full time equivalent (FTE) medical providers and 1.8 FTE dental providers, Northwest projects it can serve over 2,000 new, unduplicated patients in its first year as a full-service Health Center. Using an average of 2.5 visits annually per medical patient, this would lead to 3,750 medical visits. At 2.0 annual visits per dental patient, the Health Center would see 1,000 dental visits.

EHRs are an absolutely essential element of this plan. Health care is an information-rich environment. Greater and more seamless flow of information can occur within a digital health care infrastructure, transforming the way care is delivered and compensated. Many insurance companies, including Medicare, require EHRs as an element of their participation with the health provider. It is a requirement for participation in the Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use program. With EHRs, information is available whenever and wherever it is needed, making it easier for patients to acquire care between providers. EHRs have many benefits:

  • Improve the quality and convenience of patient care•
  • Increase patient participation in their care
  • Improve accuracy of diagnoses and health outcomes
  • Improve care coordination
  • Increase practice efficiencies and cost savings

Reaching Special Populations

The Traverse City, Bear Lake, and Shelby service areas have a shortage of providers who will serve low-income residents. Without access to care, the majority of people who live in these areas are at greater risk for poor health status. They are more likely to become ill, die at younger ages, and have health risk factors that include smoking, being overweight, and living a sedentary lifestyle. They have more disabilities and chronic illness. They receive less preventive care, such as immunizations and cancer screenings, and they require more hospitalizations for serious conditions that could have been avoided by receiving preventive, office-based care.

Improving Outcomes

The transition to a full-service Health Center will allow Northwest Michigan Health Services to hire additional providers and will promote service expansion. With the incorporation of EHR, care will adhere to Patient-Centered Medical Home principles and enhance the full integration of behavioral health and primary care. The full use of EHR systems is integral to proper management of chronic disease patients, such as those with diabetics, and for cardiovascular patient monitoring.

Program Innovation / Model of Delivery

Patient-Centered Medical Home principles and the full integration of behavioral health and primary care are needed aspects in Northwest’s proposed care delivery model. Patient care will be designed around multidisciplinary teams—medical and dental providers, behavioral health professionals, health coach, and care manager. The EHR system is the linchpin to ensure seamless care delivery and quality, timely patient care and interventions.

Community Collaboration / Service Integration

Northwest is committed to actively collaborating with community partners and reaching out to those in need. The EHR system will serve to promote and enhance care partnerships and referral relationships for direct patient care and wraparound services.

Innovation in Design

Northwest has chosen SuccessEHS as its EHR System. SuccessEHS is a nationally acclaimed vendor providing EHR and practice management solutions. It is certified by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology (CCHIT®), an ONC-ATCB, in accordance with the applicable certification criteria for Eligible Providers adopted by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Impact on Social Determinants of Health

Transforming into a full-service Health Center will allow Northwest Michigan Health Services to make an immediate, positive impact in its service area on the disparities caused by poverty and lack of access to needed health care services. Creating a one-stop health care home that provides primary, behavioral health, and dental care, as well as benefit enrollment assistance, care management, and education under one roof will greatly improve access to care in Traverse City, Bear Lake, and Shelby communities. Additional primary care providers to serve the low-income population will enhance the safety net of health services for the poor. The proposed EHR system will help enhance the quality of care provided and improve chronic care management.


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