Lowell, MA — Lowell Community Health Center’s (Lowell CHC) focus on health access and equity has taken a major stride forward with the recent launch of Epic, the most widely used and comprehensive electronic health records (EHR) system in health care.
The system went online at 10 federally qualified community health centers (FQHCs) throughout the Commonwealth on December 1 with the assistance of Community Technology Cooperative, which was formed to help FQHCs improve health and equity for under-resourced communities through technology. 2 additional FQHCs in Massachusetts will begin implementation in early 2023.
The launch of Epic will support nearly 165000 clinical visits per year at Lowell CHC, including vital behavioral health, dental, and eye care. It will also make it easier for care teams to document and work with resources to address patient needs for other support. Across the Commonwealth, the Community Technology Cooperative initiative will impact more than 1.5 million clinical visits per year.
“Epic is another step in our journey to creating a just and healthy community,” said Brenda Rodriguez, Lowell CHC Chief Finance and Strategy Officer. “By collaborating with and taking part in the multi-health center implementation of Epic, we are expanding and strengthening equitable health practices across the commonwealth, including right here in Greater Lowell. This new platform will enable and drive digital transformation in both patient care and access.”
The conversion to Epic, a year-long effort, ensures a best-in-class system to serve Lowell CHC’s 31,000 patients, the majority of whom are low-income and people of color.
Added Rodriguez, “Thanks to Epic, our care teams and staff will be able to accelerate improvements in clinical workflows. We’re excited that the new patient portal, MyChart, will help reduce barriers to access by allowing patients to engage directly with their care teams.” With MyChart, patients can request appointments, refill prescriptions, communicate directly with their care teams, and more.
A portion of the EPIC implementation costs were funded through a one-time, $5M Massachusetts’ American Rescue Plan Act funding, as well as a grant from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to make EHR improvements at community health centers. “This is a significant investment by the Commonwealth, for which we are so grateful,” Rodriguez said. “We see it as an investment in the future of equitable health care.”
To see the full list of Massachusetts community health centers participating in this project, click here.