Adrienne Mann

05 Apr, 2021
Follow Coleman!

Adrienne Mann

05 Apr, 2021
Follow Coleman!

10 Ways to Future Proof Your Health Center

Leaders at community health centers across the country are trying to make quick and thoughtful decisions on utilizing resources strategically to prepare for the future as we emerge from the pandemic. The following are ten ways you can strategically use your resources to future-proof your health center:

Click above to access our handy infographic

  1. Human Infrastructure-

    Community Health Centers (CHCs) are unique organizations that not only provide for their patient populations but also reinvest in the community by employing community members. According to the National Association of Community Health Centers, every dollar invested in CHCs generates an average of $5.73, and CHCs have created over 405,000 jobs (NACHC, 2019). The people who work in CHCs are critical to the mission, and the job of CHC leaders is to prepare them for the future. Cy Wakeman says that “change is hard only for the unready” (Wakeman, 2017, 124). Consider getting staff ready for the future by investing in language classes, typing classes, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, climate health training, and more. See #10 for how Coleman Associates can help you invest in staff.

  2. The Digital Front Door-

    COVID-19 has sped up the adoption of technology-based consumer experiences such as food and grocery delivery, online car buying, and telehealth visits. A common misconception is that Community Health Center patients don’t use these technologies; but according to the Pew Research Center, 96% of Americans have a cell phone (Pew Research Center, 2019). This includes the vast majority of Community Health Center patients.  Customers expect digital access to Community Health Centers, giving them the ability to interact before ever walking through the front door. Examples of technologies to invest in to serve these patients include two-way texting (not just appointment reminder texts), online scheduling software, mobile-friendly websites in multiple languages, and mobile apps. There will still be patients that prefer a phone call, so make sure they have a great experience too with a high functioning, data-driven phone system.  Keep in mind that user-friendliness for both staff and patients, and a solid implementation plan will ensure that these technologies don’t collect dust.

  3. Telehealth Platforms-

    When most organizations started telehealth in March of 2020, it was a mad dash to see which software could go online the fastest. Now, as consumers, we have come to expect telehealth as an option. Payors have since changed reimbursement to reinforce video visits over phone-only visits. Making video visits/telehealth easy on patients, staff, and providers is critical for patient retention and for strong telehealth reimbursement. This is an opportunity to leverage your platform for your organization that integrates scheduling, paperwork, payment, and clinical care.  Whatever choices you make, ensure you can sustain the plan and the costs for years to come.

  4. Digital Infrastructure-

    If I had a dollar for every time a staff member or provider at a clinic told me that we had to wait for their computers to load, I’d be a rich woman.  Talk to your IT folks or an outside expert and figure out what you need to do to prepare your health center’s infrastructure for the future of 5G internet speeds and higher demand on servers, then do it. Then, create systems to pull together your data in a data dashboard so that the organization can see at any moment how they are performing in any and all areas, with just a glance or a click. Your wallet will thank you later.

  5. Laptops/Tablets for Staff-

    In the future of healthcare, the name of the game is flexibility. As we saw with COVID-19, the organizations that could most easily move staff and change workflows had a leg up in adapting. Laptops and tablets are a flexible option for staff and providers that allows them to work from multiple locations, lets them go to their patients, and prevents the need to always be signing in and out of computers. Ensure you have high-quality hardware to save time and frustration for patients and staff. Don’t forget time-saving accessories like a Bluetooth mouse and printer.

  6. Patient-Centered Remodel-

    When you are ready to upgrade your physical plant, consider spending funds to create patient-centered care environments, such as gender-neutral bathrooms or portable front desks. Again, flexibility is key. For example, some organizations have successfully utilized open space concept areas with moveable walls and furniture on wheels. This means the clinic can move to suit any changes you need to make in the future in less than 24 hours! Also, consider completing a climate readiness assessment to increase the organization’s resiliency in the coming decades.

  7. EMR Upgrades-

    One of the most time-consuming tasks for staff in clinics is moving between multiple electronic systems or paper to care for patients and document care. Use this as an opportunity to work with vendors to streamline the documentation process throughout patient care. For example, make sure that any “required questions” are in the EMR in the normal documentation flow of the staff, and take out any unnecessary questions.  This will increase compliance with requirements, improve documentation, and decrease staff burnout.

  8. Personalized Health-

    Popular innovations in consumer health include patient wearables, home genetic and lab testing, and AI clinical decision-making support. As these technologies become less expensive and better, more patients will expect their healthcare teams to be able to capitalize on all the information available to them. Ensure you can easily integrate these systems with your EMR and invest in support for your staff to use patient-generated data to inform evidence-based practices. This will also help you to ensure the wellness of your patients as you move into more value-based payment models.

  9. Data Exchange Systems-

    In this evolving world of Value-Based Payment, the ability to integrate systems with community partners such as hospitals, long-term care facilities, urgent care clinics, and social service agencies saves time, money, and can even save patients’ lives. The easier it is to share information, the easier it is to take great care of patients. Plus, data exchange systems make it easier to pull records and save an incredible amount of staff time.

  10. Work with Coleman Associates-

    In addition to all the investments above, frankly, your most valuable resources are your staff and their teamwork. Organizations that went through DPI™ (even many years ago) were better able to handle COVID-19 and recovered faster. We are the nation’s trusted leader in healthcare training. Our team members have all worked in community health, and we have a proven track record of helping organizations sustain long-lasting results to get back to full capacity, take great care of your staff and patients, and prepare for what’s next. Options for building your human infrastructure and patient experience include our highly reputed DPI™ process redesign, workflow improvements, access improvement, quality outcomes improvement, Tactical Nurse™ Training, Indispensable MA Training, Leadership Training aka HIMP, Referral Improvement Deep Dive, phone room improvements, paperwork reduction programs, Behavioral Health Integration, All-Staff workshops, Team-Based Care Training, and practical… and fun…workshops to help and support your staff and managers.

To see a full menu of service offerings from Coleman Associates,
click this link.


NACHC. (2019). Community Health Centers as Economic Engines. National Association of Community Health Centers.

Pew Research Center. (2019). Mobile Fact Sheet. Pew Research Center.

Wakeman, C. (2017). No Ego. St. Martin’s Publishing Group.

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