Federally Qualified Health Centers face unique challenges as they try to provide quality healthcare to a population of patients who are largely uninsured or on Medicaid or Medicare. Franklin Primary Health Center is no different. They had a system that did only phone reminders and provided no additional messaging tools. The no-show rate was high and the patient outcomes weren’t optimal. They knew it was time for a change. Another FQHC recommended Solutionreach. After a demo and some discussions, it was clear that was the right solution for Franklin to meet their goals.
In 2019, Franklin Primary Health Center started their search for a better patient communication system. “We recognized that the demographics were leaning more towards text messaging, says Beth Adams, IS Director at Franklin. “Our goal was to reduce no-shows but we wanted to do more than just reminders. We wanted the ability to reach out to patients for other things, and we wanted to do it on our own. We wanted to be independent and flexible with our patient communication.” When Beth says do more than just reminders she means they were interested in doing patient surveys, educational newsletters, informational campaigns, recall messaging, and even patient review requests.
Founded in Mobile, Alabama in 1975, Franklin has grown to 23 community-based centers with a large medical mall that provides a host of healthcare and social services. They have over 40 providers and nearly 300 staff. Their services range from primary care and behavioral health to lab and radiology along with social services and nutrition. In 2019, they saw 42,000 patients in 137,000 encounters. Over 80 percent of those patients are uninsured or on Medicaid.
“It can be difficult to serve this population at times because the demographic information changes a lot,” said Beth. “We often find they have moved or have challenges with transportation. Therefore, the no-show rate is high. They often don’t fully understand why they need to come in for preventive care or follow up appointments.”
Since their implementation in December 2019, there have been a big drop in no-shows. Prior to implementation the no-show rate was 22 percent and it dropped to seven percent in just two months with the use of Solutionreach reminders. They were just getting ready to start work on educational campaigns to help improve outcomes when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “We had figured out a good process to pull very targeted lists of patients from our population health system and then upload those to Solutionreach for education and outreach,” Beth explains. “But we had stop and focus on the COVID communication.”
They were able to do exactly what they hoped they could do with Solutionreach—quickly change their messaging and push out communications completely on their own. “We had to close some centers and it happened over a weekend,” recalled Beth. “I was able to take the bull by the horns and started messaging patients using Solutionreach without any help.” They were also able to communicate about cancellations for dental and optometry appointments as those specialties were asked to close down.
After that, Franklin needed to support the need for adding telehealth as an option for appointments. According to her, it was pretty easy. “We kept all appointments except dental and optometry, which were closed. Patients were calling and trying to cancel. I was able to send out mass communications encouraging people to use telehealth if they didn’t want to come in person. Encounters were still down but being able to do telehealth helped.” Using Solutionreach, they sent out over 330,000 messages to patients.
“Just being able to communicate with patients has been great, says Beth. “I get excited when I talk about Solutionreach. I got an email from my son’s physician that they were doing well child visits and I saw it and thought we should do that. We put together a newsletter and shot that out. We have a new women’s health provider, it’s slow, and she said, ‘can we send something out to let people know I am here?’ So we did that. It’s been liberating to be able to communicate with patients this way. We have needed Solutionreach so much, and I can’t imagine where we would be without it right now.”
Franklin had to pause some of their plans, but they ended up trying some new things like SR Telehealth. "We are trying SR Telehealth along with another option," says Beth. "We think it will be more scalable for us, and I'm looking forward to seeing the results." She adds, "We've only reached the tip of the iceberg. We are looking forward to adding surveys, recall, and reviews. We are using Solutionreach more than I ever thought possible."