Building Strategic Telehealth Partnerships: Community Health Clinics 

Today, many community clinics lack the resources necessary to secure their records online. As a result, these clinics often choose to continue maintaining paper records. However, this can be problematic in a number of ways, from the required space to security issues. In fact, not knowing how to properly use a computer has cost at least one doctor her license to practice. As more and more state and federal funding programs include electronic filing and reporting requirements, the healthcare professionals that arguably have the most contact with the communities they serve may be left behind and put out of business if things stay as they are now.

Community health centers and the programs they offer are often the most frequent healthcare professional contact people have, in part because a majority of patients are below the poverty line. Supporting these centers has the backing of virtually all elements of the American political and social spectrum, left and right alike. Why? The details differ based on whom you ask, but they all boil down to one thing: Because they work.

These establishments benefit not just the communities they serve, but the greater good as well by spotting potential epidemics before they happen. For obvious reasons, this is far less expensive in the long run. It is not, however, so inexpensive that switching to electronic recordkeeping is an obvious choice when prioritizing care, despite the fact that such measures have been shown to improve patient health outcomes. As time goes on, though, the requirements to do so will become stricter. This is why action needs to be taken now in order to keep these centers open so they can continue to help the largest number of people possible with their healthcare needs. Supporting these centers is as much common sense as a policy question as it is a good neighbor question.

There is good news on the horizon, though. With the boost in their finances provided by wider access to health insurance via the Affordable Care Act, such centers are improving their financial position while emphasizing care for those who need it most. Collaborating with all the stakeholders in a community, as is the case in supporting community health centers, is part of belonging to the social body. It is precisely this mindset of social responsibility that informs the actions taken by healthcare professionals at these centers in the first place. So, with just a little help, these centers can break through the few remaining barriers to adopting telehealth capacities for their patients. Everyone benefits.

Community health clinics are the bulwark of the modern medical system. They are the centerpieces in our fight against diseases. And they are mostly succeeding. But they need a little help. Working with them to improve their telehealth access both improves patient outcomes and means continued access to state and federal funding programs. If you want to have a positive effect on the nation’s health, helping these folks is the best way to start.

Avizia was acquired by American Well in July of 2018. Information on this page refers to activities that occurred prior to the acquisition and are presented for historical context. Together we provide a comprehensive acute care offering—a full end-to-end telemedicine solution for health systems and their providers.