As the largest public health system in the country, NYC Health + Hospitals had a problem.
While it's a major community health provider in New York City, the health system has seen about a 3% annual drop in unique primary care patients from its system over the past several years.
So this week, the health system announced it is planning to spend $82 million building three new strategically located outpatient healthcare centers in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx by 2021. It also announced the launch of its advanced electronic medical record system at a handful of its community health centers and neighborhood clinics in Brooklyn. This marks the first implementation of the system that integrates both clinical and revenue cycle modules of the customized Epic medical record system.
"We really want to focus on delivering the highest quality care and really earning our patients back into our system," Theodore Long, M.D., vice president for ambulatory care at NYC Health + Hospitals, told FierceHealthcare.
The new health centers will be located near public transportation with nearby affordable and market-rate housing and commercial establishments. They will feature a one-stop ambulatory care service model with pediatric and adult primary care, women’s health, behavioral health, dental services, age-appropriate screening exams, radiology, and optometry. The health system is also considering adding full-service pharmacies.
"You could have someone come in, see me in primary care and then maybe see their behavioral health therapist if they have one and then see a dentist to get their annual cleaning and then see their optometrist and maybe even walk out with a pair of glasses, then head over to the retail pharmacy," Long said. "It removes many of the barriers to them getting the medications they need for chronic diseases."
The centers are part of a larger series of initiatives around NYC Health + Hospital's ambulatory care network announced in September and part of the "One New York: Health Care for Our Neighborhoods” plan for NYC Health + Hospitals issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio in April 2016.
The biggest sticking point: The health system believes opening access for patients to primary care physicians and specialists will drive higher volumes. Central to that strategy, Long said, is the technology that enables it.