Kaiser Health News and USA Today recently ran a report on federally-funded community health centers, and apparently the South is having some trouble keeping up. The article states that centers in the South generally lagged behind the Midwest, New England and California in the six quality measures tracked by the federal government, such as controlling diabetes and administering prenatal care.
Georgia had the most trouble, ranking near the bottom on four of the six measures. Not all Georgia centers are having trouble, but those that are seem to be in pretty deep. One extreme example cited in the report, the Oakhurst Medical Center, was one of eight of the 1,200 federally-funded medical centers to rank low on all six quality indicators. Its director cites a number of valid challenges faced in the area — high obesity rates, a large African population who is unfamiliar with seeking vaccinations and preventative care, and a 40 percent uninsured patient population.
He is candid, saying “We can do better,” and the center has already made attempts to do so. No matter the reason for the visit all parents are asked about getting their children immunized and all women who are due for a pap test are offered one. The center is also installing an EMR system. Another patient engagement attempt, however, has not worked out so well.
“Last year, Oakhurst called more than 300 patients considered at high risk because they are obese, diabetic or have high blood pressure and asked them to enroll in a free nutrition class. Only 18 signed up,” the article says.
That’s only six percent!
The reality is that healthcare is a two-way street. Providers have to hold themselves to high standards in care delivery, but they can only deliver great care to those who seek and want it. Many patients do. Armed with thorough internet research and a list of docs and their credentials, many patients are engaged more than ever.
But what do you do in a community, such as the one Oakhurst resides in, where patient engagement is a major hurdle to effective healthcare?