Objective: To study and report on the use of open source electronic health records (EHR) to assist with chronic care management within safety net medical settings, such as community health centers (CHC).
Methods and materials: The study was conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago from April to September 2010. The NORC team undertook a comprehensive environmental scan, including a literature review, a dozen key informant interviews using a semistructured protocol, and a series of site visits to CHC that currently use an open source EHR.
Results: Two of the sites chosen by NORC were actively using an open source EHR to assist in the redesign of their care delivery system to support more effective chronic disease management. This included incorporating the chronic care model into an CHC and using the EHR to help facilitate its elements, such as care teams for patients, in addition to maintaining health records on indigent populations, such as tuberculosis status on homeless patients.
Discussion: The ability to modify the open-source EHR to adapt to the CHC environment and leverage the ecosystem of providers and users to assist in this process provided significant advantages in chronic care management. Improvements in diabetes management, controlled hypertension and increases in tuberculosis vaccinations were assisted through the use of these open source systems.
Conclusions: The flexibility and adaptability of open source EHR demonstrated its utility and viability in the provision of necessary and needed chronic disease care among populations served by CHC.
Keywords: chronic care model; chronic disease; community health center; electronic health record; open source.