Deriving Value from Health IT: Unity Health

Unity Health Care, a Federally Qualified Health Center serving nearly 95,000 underserved residents in 30 sites throughout Washington, DC, discovered that it was able to increase revenue by being smarter about utilization of existing staff, rather than by bringing in new providers – with technology being the genius behind its success!

Unity Health Care is the recipient of the 2012 HIMSS Community Health Organization Davies Award.

Unity implemented a new phone system, piloted centralized scheduling, and implemented an EHR and practice management system used by 200 providers and 900 employees, contributing to a 21% increase in overall provider productivity since 2012. Because of this increase in productivity, Unity has realized $12.2 million dollars in additional revenue.

Additionally, no show rates, near 36% in 2009, fell to 28% in 2012.  Abandoned call rates have dropped 20%, and average call wait times have decreased nearly 2 minutes – before this intervention, there was no way of measuring how many calls were being lost or how long patients were on hold.  Predictively, patient satisfaction has increased: 85.5% of patients agree with the statement that it is now easier for them to make an appointment.

Wrote Unity’s staff in their application for the Davies Award:

“The EHR is the major technology making this intervention possible. Our investments were $5.5 million – EHR implementation, $75,000 – scheduling center pilot, $13,000- phone consultant analysis. Our returns are $1.98 million grants from HRSA for our implementation, $2.66 million- Meaningful Use through 2012, $12.2 million – through 2012 from increased revenues due to increase provider productivity. The ROI for the project was -64.8% at the end of 2009. We broke even in 2011 and have an ROI of 106% in 2012.”

As a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) serving low-income, homeless, and uninsured residents of Washington, DC, Unity fills an extremely important gap in the healthcare system by providing primary medical care to homeless, low-income, and uninsured residents.

From 1985-2009, patient scheduling was done independently at each of Unity site, because there was no practical way to communicate, enterprise-wide, providers’ schedules that changed moment-to-moment. Access to care was frustrating for patients; providers were frustrated with their ever-changing schedules; and staff was frustrated with their inability to effectively manage any of it.  But, in 2009, it all changed, as it all had to change. 

Access to healthcare is key to proactive and timely care.  Workflow is “King” when it comes to creating efficiencies.  Unity’s upgraded scheduling center has been wildly successful, with a high level of satisfaction for providers and staff as they are able to validate service, and follow-up on complaints. With their EHR and the phone system they moved to a data driven process.  For any good King there must be an even better “Queen” — and Data Management is that Queen!

None of this is cheap or simple – Unity spent $5.5 million to gain these efficiencies.   HOWEVER, Unity’s return definitely takes away the sticker shock of the upfront investment, with an overall $12.2 million in additional revenue to date.

2012 proved to be an outstanding win-win for efficient workflow, access to care, and positive returns for both patients and providers.  Let’s look to see how Unity will continue to improve its efficiencies in 2013.

About David Collins, MHA, CPHQ, CPHIMS, FHIMSS

David Collins, MHA, CPHQ, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, is HIMSS Director, Healthcare Information Systems.
This entry was posted in Health IT News and Developments, HIMSS News and Developments, Patient-Centered Systems, Value of Health IT and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Deriving Value from Health IT: Unity Health

  1. jasonhan129 says:

    Reblogged this on health it rant and commented:
    Nice! Using Health IT to do more with less resources. This is example is great…we need some analytic focused success stories

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