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OCHIN Adds Adverse Childhood Experiences Screening to…

OCHIN Adds Adverse Childhood Experiences Screening to…

In 2020, the nonprofit OCHIN, which provides health IT services to more than 500 health clinics across 47 states, began integrating a suite of tools that would allow providers to screen patients for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress directly from their OCHIN Epic electronic health record (EHR) platform.

ACEs are traumatic childhood experiences that can impact people of all racial, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and research indicates that two-thirds of American adults have been exposed to at least one ACE. As the California Medical Association noted, ACEs, and the resulting toxic stress response that may occur, are a root cause to some of the most common, serious and costly health challenges – including nine out of the 10 leading causes of death nationwide.

There are efforts under way by payers and clinicians to bolster ACEs screening. For instance, a 2021 California law significantly expand health insurance coverage for ACEs screening.

In a blog post, OCHIN described how it is enabling providers to screen patients for ACEs and toxic stress directly from their OCHIN Epic EHR platform.

OCHIN noted that for seven years California-based nonprofit provider TrueCare, which operates 11 health centers throughout Southern California, has made screening patients for a priority.

OCHIN helps TrueCare and other community care organizations in its growing national network better identify patients who may need intervention and seamlessly connect them with additional clinical or community resources for support.

“These tools, which were among the first ACEs screenings to be integrated directly into an EHR nationally, are available from OCHIN in partnership with the Community Health Center Network (CHCN), with support from Blue Shield of California,” OCHIN says. “In addition to being more efficient than the paper surveys previously used, they are also highly effective in helping providers find toxic stress early and break cycles of generational poverty, abuse, and neglect by coordinating proper counseling, behavioral health services, or community-based resources for needs like food or housing assistance.”

In September 2020, OCHIN began integrating a new suite of tools that would allow providers, including TrueCare, to screen patients for ACEs and toxic stress directly from their OCHIN Epic electronic health record (EHR) platform. Since joining the OCHIN network and participating in the program, TrueCare has screened more than 3,600 patients and imported 70,000 past ACEs/Pediatric ACEs and Related Life-events Screeners (PEARLS) into Epic. They consider this work to be a critical part of offering comprehensive, connected care for their community.

OCHIN quotes Leon Altamirano, Ph.D., director of integrated behavioral health and a licensed psychologist at TrueCare: “The better we can collect data, the more we can understand how prevalent these experiences are in our population and the better we can integrate primary and behavioral health to provide whole-person healthcare.”

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