We realize that public health Electronic Health Records (EHR) system must continue to evolve to meet changing requirements and demands being put on Local Health Departments (LHDs) by various public health state/federal programs and grantees. In order to make sure that the new EHR keeps up and responds in timely manner, Patagonia Health forms and runs state specific Health Director User Group (HDUG). The HDUG comprises of leaders of LHDs using Patagonia Health EHR. The HDUG ensures the value of EHR is maximized over time and not just initially. The state specific user focus group as well as HDUG are formed once we have sufficient number of health departments in one state.

What is the issue?

More so even than private medical practices, local health departments (LHDs) have to deal with a higher level of complexity (and potentially, burden) in selecting, adopting and using their Electronic Health Record (EHR) software.

Local health departments work very closely with state departments of public health and federal funders. There is a lot of collaboration required, and regular reports must be sent to the state which are then sent to federal entities or grant providers. In order to meet their contractual obligations to the state and ensure funding continues to flow, local health directors are looking for an EHR solution that is not just Meaningful Use compliant but which will continue to evolve to meet specific public health needs.

To make life even more complex, a number of program funders (e.g. Women, Infants, and Children or The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program or Diabetes Management) also require local health departments to use their program-specific software systems. Users in local health departments must enter (patient) data into various program-specific systems to ensure continued funding. Additionally, LHDs must work with and exchange data with a number of state systems (e.g. immunization registries, surveillance systems and state labs).

Thus, for local health departments, purchasing and adopting a new EHR is a different ball game than for a private medical practice.

How can we address this?To avoid double data entry into program-specific or state systems, health directors are looking for an EHR which will act as a hub (at a local level) to minimize dual data entry by their staff and ensure appropriate state/federal reporting while meeting the federal Meaningful Use mandate.

LHD leaders need an EHR that will continue to focus on public health and continue to invest in exchanging data with state as well as federal systems.

Health Director User Group: An Overview

The HDUG, advanced EHR training groups, meets regularly to discuss how to maximize value from their existing EHR software as well as to identify new opportunities to improve local health department operations via new software development. The meetings are conducted via an online conference with a mediator to keep the agenda on track.

A collective, state specific, approach results in the best idea generation while also minimizing the cost of one-off custom software development. HDUG meetings focus on solving today’s problems—but just as importantly, focus on solutions that will solve some of the unique problems public health will face long-term.

“I like to hear the success stories, and to know what is going on with Patagonia Health and State Health Information System with reporting and Medicaid Cost Settlement. Being a previous batch county (before HIS) it is nice to have a group of like systems sharing information.” – Paula Carden, Health Director, Jackson County.

Sample HDUG topics include:

Current status

  • System performance and support metrics
  • State reporting
  • State compliance
  • Federal reporting

Best Practices (invited speaker)

Future planning

  • System connectivity and interfaces (e.g. state lab, immunization registry, etc.)
  • Federal compliance (e.g. Meaningful Use)
  • Patagonia Health R&D roadmap, including new apps

Learn more

Contact us for more information about the Health Director User Group or Patagonia Health EHR.

info@patagoniahealth.com  or Tel: 919-238-4780