Field Report: AltaMed (FQHC) – Ray Lowe and Eric Lee, MD

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Bill Russell / Ray Lowe / Eric Lee

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 March 30, 2020: For this installment of our field reports from the front lines of the crisis, we have Dr. Eric Lee, medical director in clinical informatics at AltaMed and Ray Lowe, CIO at the same company. AltaMed is a federally qualified health clinic that has a variety of community health centers across Orange County, primarily serving underprivileged groups with a range of health services. It’s one thing for larger medical firms with ample funding, preexisting IT integration, and specialist staff to talk about scaling in this crisis, but completely another for providers on the margins. Ray and Dr. Lee talk about where AltaMed was in terms of their capacity for Telehealth, RPM, and integration with Epic’s MyChart before the crisis, and which of these services they have had to double down on since. We hear about how the team has searched for funding to help them speed up in the implementation of these IT systems, and who came through to support them in the end. Ray and Dr. Lee touch on some other special considerations today too, such as how many of the communities they serve are non-English speaking, meaning things like interpreters and language factor into their IT scaling process. Our guests also share some proud moments in how they are managing and they speak about implementing Epic in the last year alone despite having to wear multiple hats. Tune in for some well-needed perspectives from a provider on the fringes.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Background into AltaMed and the large underprivileged communities they serve in LA.
  • Reprioritizing/reassigning in different areas of health care provision to cope with COVID-19.
  • Funding restrictions impacting federally qualified health clinics and community health centers.
  • How AltaMed has coped with scaling Telehealth and other IT with newfound reimbursements.
  • Dr. Lee and Ray’s search for which technologies integrate well with Epic.
  • A decline in visits to AltaMed clinics since COVID-19 and how Telehealth can help.
  • Considerations in implementing Epic around language diversity in the OC.
  • Looking for the right provider to integrate with Epic’s MyChart.
  • Ray’s wish for an earlier focus on Telehealth over RPM to prepare for COVID-19.
  • Wearing different hats and how Ray and Dr. Lee couldn’t have done things differently.
  • Proud moments in the impressive IT scaling that AltaMed has achieved after COVID-19.