FQHCs – A Wonderful History, An Essential Future that Demands New Technology

6 Urgent FQHC pandemic needs met by Odoro

Back in 1965 the Federally Qualified Health Centers – or FQHCs – came into being, as part of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”  Today, more than a half-century later, these centers, which are located in underserved areas and which maintain an “open door” policy – delivering care to everyone, whether they can afford it or not – play a vital role in the healthcare ecosystem.

This role has been elevated in importance during the pandemic, when – in addition to the higher incidence of COVID-19 among the medically underserved – many FQHCs became testing centers.  This made their role even more challenging, as many potential patients have had to balance their need for medical attention with the “fear factor” of entering premises that might have a high percentage of COVID-positive people.

It’s long been the mission of FQHCs to bring their patient populations the most sophisticated technologies available, believing that an ability to pay should not be a driver of world-class care.  That goal has been front-and-center during the pandemic, when many FQHCs moved swiftly to embrace leading-edge technology platforms to address the needs of the communities they serve. At Odoro we’ve seen that commitment;  we worked with visionary FQHCs who quickly rose to the moment and integrated our sophisticated digital access solutions.  Our technology can handle tight budgets, limited staff resources, and language barriers – all of which were necessary in the face of the high COVID-19 incidence, and the “fear factor” these institutions faced.

Odoro’s platform was robust enough to meet these Six essential demands of FQHCs.

Demand #1:  Build instant loyalty with new patients through finding and scheduling online care.

Nothing is more important to FQHCs, and their mission, than those initial interactions with new patients, especially when it comes to making it easy for them to find and schedule care online. 

Access during the transitional period when new patients are catching up with from COVID shut downs, and are anxious for digitized appointment scheduling and communications, making them aware of these innovative services is a critical branding opportunity.  It also provides valuable engagement with existing patients.

FQHCs, being as they are at the front lines with at-risk patients, understand how reduced access to care has serious implications for health outcomes across their members where they sit on the socio-economic spectrum. Online scheduling straight from the home page makes it easier to reach new populations who are looking for care online. Targeted reminders help bring back patients that avoided care.

Results: An FQHC in Boston achieved a whopping  44% of online scheduling from new patients.

Demand #2:  We must digitize scheduling for COVID testing sites

FQHCs are sitting squarely in the midst of multiple crises – not just the pandemic, but the cascade of health-care consequences it has triggered.  The Odoro platform allows staff to focus on non-COVID patients while automating the infrastructure for testing and making it easy for anxious patients to schedule their appointments digitally.

This new level of efficiency could not have come a moment too soon; just consider the burden of scheduling such a significant number of COVID-19 tests over the phone, in a high-stress environment.

Results: A leading FQHC in Boston was able to schedule 50% of monthly COVID tests online.

Demand #3: It’s time for “Scheduling Justice”

As has been tragically well-established, the pandemic has exaggerated long-standing gaps in health care, including the ability for all patients to have access to direct scheduling of appointments with physicians. Unfortunately, younger white patients have consistently exhibited disproportionate use of this technology. FQHCs are poignantly aware of this. Odoro has made it possible for FQHCs to allow patients to own their scheduling destiny – with ease and availability in multiple languages central to this. Whether online or through voice recognition –  or calling an agent – the data has shown that when all channels are available, using the same matching algorithms, no one is left behind.

Demand #4:  FQHCs require effective scheduling that is capable of adjusting flow per specialty services

There is no doubt that all medical specialties have unique needs; family medicine, pediatrics, ophthalmology, behavioural health, OBGYN and others – each have their own scheduling logic. Because so many FQHCs are multi-specialty – requiring multiple, dedicated workflows – they have a high level of need for a solution that can address their complexities.

The Odoro platform was intentionally designed to support the inherent logic of these different specialties. For example – and this is just one of many software contingencies that have been incorporated into Odoro, and can only come from deep familiarity with the practice area –  OBGYN guided scheduling must incorporate specific timing dates related to pregnancy, wellness visits for children require reminders in specific intervals and much more.

Demand #5:  Keep patients informed and engaged with regular, personalized communications that recognize the unique needs of different individuals and populations

During the dynamic environment of COVID, FHQCs found it particularly essential to communicate with older and other high-risk patients. Odoro helped FQHCs drive patients to take action by pushing population-specific helpful guidelines and practical information, and by sending personalized reminders for services like annual wellness checks, scheduled appointments, or telehealth consultations via text, IVR or email.

Demand #6:  FHQCs need a smart and intuitive interface between their Practice Management Systems and Zoom

With the stress of the pandemic there is no time for complex adjustments to workflows, while expediting virtual visits. Odoro enables schedulers to continue using their practice management calendar, eliminating the double work associated with virtual meeting scheduling. The platform automatically generates a Zoom meeting, sends patients a link to join, and reminds them to attend significantly reducing no-shows and enabling them to quickly refill any cancelled visits.

Results: An Odoro customer, an FQHC in Texas reduced workload when seeing a dramatic 800 telehealth visits out of 1500 monthly appointments

Odoro is privileged to be able to bring our advanced digital access platform to the FQHC community.  No longer will those in under-served communities remain under-delivered by leading edge technology. Physicians and patients are aligned in their recognition that the first-line of health-care access is the front door of scheduling. Keeping that front door open, accessible, and – above all – a safe and democratized space – is our fundamental mission.

About Dikla Ranen

Dikla Ranen is the co-founder and COO of Odoro – a leader in digital patient access solutions for health systems. Over the last 20 years, Dikla has held senior sales, business development and customer success roles in both the digital health and hi-tech sector. Working at the forefront of the changing digital patient access landscape for the past 10 years, she understands first-hand the challenges and issues facing health systems. To learn more about sector best-practices and how latest digital innovation strategies are being used to improve the patient experience, please message with Dikla on Linkedin.