Briefs and Reports

Clinical-Community Integration: The Role of Health Information Technology

In Dallas, a computer network now links the emergency department of a major hospital with homeless shelters, food pantries, and other community organizations that serve many of the hospital’s frequent visitors, allowing each organization to better meet their shared clients’ needs.

In Oregon, many community health centers now have a way to screen patients to identify social issues affecting their health, and a way to document the findings in the electronic medical records.

In Chicago, thousands of patients have received “prescriptions” from their doctors for food and other community resources to improve their health.

Connecting clinical care to organizations in patients’ communities has the potential to improve health outcomes, and sharing information is one of the first steps to making it work.

A new policy brief from the Connecticut Health Foundation and the Health Disparities Institute at UConn Health examines the role of health information technology in linking clinical care with patients’ communities and identifies lessons from existing models that can inform similar work in Connecticut.

The brief, written by Health Disparities Institute Associate Director Victor G. Villagra, MD, describes the importance of technology that can allow all providers – in clinical care and community organizations – to have the same information about their shared patients or clients. It addresses barriers to sharing information and offers examples of models that have used health information technology to connect health care providers and local health departments and community groups.

This policy brief is part of a series on clinical-community integration. To read an overview of best practices for linking clinical care and communities, click here.