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Executive Director of Health Alliance for the Uninsured Jeanean Yanish Jones speaks to representatives from partner clinics during a lunch celebrating Charitable Clinics month.

Tracking Chronic Conditions to Achieve Equitable Health Outcomes

Health Alliance for the Uninsured is bolstering efforts to equip free clinics across Oklahoma with electronic medical record systems for managing patients with chronic conditions, ensuring the state’s most vulnerable residents receive equitable health care.

As a hub of support to the 95 providers in the state’s safety net clinic network, Health Alliance for the Uninsured provides supplies, information and training to free and charitable clinics and coordinates diagnostic testing, specialty consultations and surgical care for Oklahomans who otherwise wouldn’t have access.

Most clinics are managed by volunteers and have no budget for new technology, often relying on paper medical records. As a result, medical challenges and needs of uninsured patients are left out of statewide health data reports that are used to identify service gaps and allocate funding and resources.

“Our population is underserved, and most have delayed their health care and aren’t managing their chronic conditions,” says Jeanean Yanish Jones, executive director of Health Alliance for the Uninsured. “Some clinics are open four or five days a week depending on providers’ time and availability and others are just trying to get through the day. Elevating the care that free clinics can provide is crucial.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma has awarded Health Alliance for the Uninsured with a $30,000 Blue ImpactSM Grant to help up to 25 free clinics implement and train staff on an electronic medical record system for screening and monitoring patients with chronic diseases.

The Blue Impact grants are part of BCBSOK’s efforts to address gaps in health care access and improve outcomes for people across Oklahoma, regardless of insurance status.

Health Alliance for the Uninsured is contracting with a chronic disease data analyst with prior success implementing electronic medical records at free clinics in other states, Jones says. The project will focus on people with hypertension, diabetes and similar chronic conditions.

The goal is for 90% of clinics to produce clear and consistent data reports that align with industry guidelines, and for 75% of clinics relying on paper records to transition toward an electronic system within the first year of the project.

The endeavor is part of a nationwide movement to help free clinics better collect and analyze patient data, and eventually share patient insights with one another.

“This is a big step,” Jones says. “It places Oklahoma as a frontrunner in this national movement. We’re hoping clinics get more involved in the data process and see the bigger picture. They’ll see the impact they make on each person and how that adds up.”

Nearly 12% of Oklahoma residents are without health insurance coverage compared with 8% nationwide, according to 2022 U.S. Census data.

Uninsured individuals are less likely to receive preventive care and instead rely on costly emergency room visits and are often hospitalized for treatment that could have been avoided.

Data collecting, tracking and reporting will push free clinics to measure how effectively they’re providing care, track patients’ health over time and better monitor and treat chronic issues.

“The Health Alliance for the Uninsured is an outstanding community partner to BCBSOK because of the support they offer to charitable clinics across the state, which provides a critical safety-net for marginalized Oklahomans,” says BCBSOK President Stephania Grober. “The data collected through the grant will provide important information that will positively impact the care uninsured Oklahomans receive.”

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association