Boston organization to use new EHR to reduce opioid-related deaths

Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program has teamed with Netsmart to implement an electronic health record system for addiction treatment to serve those with opioid use disorders.

The goal of the new initiative is to enhance care delivery to mitigate overdoses and deaths. BHCHP annually serves more than 11,000 individuals in the metro Boston area.

“There are many people in Boston who are overdosing and dying in places like alleyways, restrooms and concrete sidewalks,” says Jessie Gaeta, MD, chief medical officer for the program. “Our goal is to get immediate help to those who have used and are sedated to avoid that scenario altogether.”

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Jessie Gaeta, MD,

Facing growing numbers of homeless persons at risk, BHCHP created the Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment, or SPOT, as a place where individuals could be medically monitored, provided with care and educated on how to avoid further harm.

Netsmart also helps BHCHP facilitate case management and getting intelligence that they need to draw current and historical clinical data in real time from other providers to assist in making informed care decisions.

Analytics embedded in the EHR provide data that enables significant insights and analysis of SPOT efforts from a client and organization perspective, enabling BHCHP to evaluate SPOT’s effectiveness.

For example, in its first three years, the SPOT team provided care to more than 800 persons in more than 10,000 encounters. Staff also learned that providing immediate observation and treatment reduced the need for transferring care to an acute-care setting and kept patients from overutilizing the emergency department, keeping costs down.

Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program estimates that one-third of SPOT encounters would have resulted in an ED visit had it not been for the program.

“What we do is unique to how substance use care is delivered in health centers, particularly for a population that is as diverse and complex as those we serve,” Gaeta says. “We needed technology that could handle our distinct needs while still being user-friendly for our staff and clinicians.”

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