Community Health Access Network Switching to Athena’s Cloud-Based Solution

May 15, 2023
Gary Noseworthy, executive director of the New Hampshire-based Community Health Access Network, discusses with Healthcare Innovation what the change will mean for the Health Center Controlled Network

New Hampshire-based Community Health Access Network (CHAN) is switching from an on-premise EHR to athenaOne, an integrated cloud-based solution. Gary Noseworthy, executive director of CHAN, discussed with Healthcare Innovation what the change will mean for the Health Center Controlled Network (HCCN).

Supported by the Health Resources & Services Administration, HCCN are networks of health centers that work together to strengthen and leverage health IT to improve health centers’ operational and clinical practices that result in better health outcomes for the communities they serve.

CHAN delivers technology, training, and technical assistance to support approximately 250 providers at seven Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) who deliver care to communities in New Hampshire, Texas, and Vermont. The first clinics will go live with the new system in the middle of July.

“We primarily support the health centers with the EHR system, and we’ve had a heritage with athena products going back many, many years, but we've supported an on-premise system to date,” Noseworthy said. “This move to athenaONE is transforming us into a software as a service platform, which brings all new kinds of opportunities for us and it changes the face of CHAN a bit. We also provide service for our health centers by helping them secure grant funding for chronic disease management and support for the various communities that they serve.”

Data warehousing and analytics “is an area that we're looking to really gain some ground in as we move to athenaONE, with some of the newer technologies that will integrate more seamlessly,” he said.

The change to a cloud-based system opens up new opportunities for CHAN’s staff of 16 employees, Noseworthy said. “A lot of what we do is support the system and that means we have to deal with updates and patches and cybersecurity and recycling equipment and asset management,” he explained, “and that will change significantly. It will allow us to streamline our own staff to focus on things that are more pertinent to delivering healthcare for the health centers. And it will be an enormous transition for the organization just to move away from that aspect, and it's a modernized technology compared to where we've been. It allows us to connect more seamlessly, if you will, with other tools that just aren't available now without separate integrations that have to be built. And many of those things come native with athenaONE.

Noseworthy said one of CHAN’s missions is to help the FQHCs standardize on a variety of applications. “We see the health centers have specific applications that are more appealing to them than others. But there is a real challenge for an organization like CHAN to support the entire panoply that might come our way from all of the separate needs. Part of what I'm doing is transforming the organization to consolidate and use the services that we have had in place, managing a network center and transform those skills into other managed services that have a broader application across the health centers that we support. There are applications that we can begin to streamline and consolidate and not offer as many different ones so it does not become the Wild West.”

Athenahealth says that through the athenaONE solution, clinicians can easily document and coordinate care across providers, simplifying workflows, improving accuracy, and enabling better focus on the patient during appointments. The company said athenahealth’s extensive reporting and network-based insights will enable the health centers to more clearly identify inefficiencies, close care gaps, and secure timely grant funding.

Kris McCracken, chief executive officer of Amoskeag Health and CHAN’s founding member and board chairman, issued this statement: “Our decision to move forward with athenahealth was driven by the value the company can deliver to help us streamline staff and clinician workflows and coordinate care for our community. With athenaOne, we will have key functionality to access information and facilitate communication between patients and providers, and better coordinate care across our community.”

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