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Institute for Population Health Integrates EHR, Virtual Care to Improve Provider and Patient Experiences

Analysis  |  By Scott Mace  
   October 05, 2022

The Detroit-based federally qualified health center is using digital health tools to improve care outcomes.

A Detroit-based federally qualified health center (FQHC) is using digital health technology integrated with its electronic health record platform to improve care management for patients living with high blood pressure.

The MicroMD electronic health record software in use in three clinics at the Institute for Population Health (IPH) was integrated in less than four weeks with Carium, a leading virtual care platform, in a partnership with Smartlink Health Solutions.

A private nonprofit, IPH took over Detroit's public health functions in 2012 as the city was approaching bankruptcy. Although most such services transferred back to Detroit in 2015 after the city emerged from bankruptcy, IPH continued to offer clinical outpatient services at three locations in the city.

The Health and Human Services Department's Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has continued to fund IPH operations to the tune of $650,000 per year in 2020 and 2021. IPH provides general primary care and health screenings including mental health, prenatal care, telehealth, and adult dental services.

Prior to Carium's integration, the IPH team was manually notifying clinicians of patients with abnormal vital readings captured through remote monitoring. Now, Carium-supplied blood pressure cuffs report data directly into IPH's EHR.

The integration creates a more complete patient record, incorporating data from within the patient's daily routine, such as blood pressure or weight.

With this data, the IPH care team can better monitor, assess, alert, intervene, educate, coach, and communicate with patients.

The integration between MicroMD and medical devices deployed and supported by Carium allows physicians at IPH to click-to-order virtual services like remote patient monitoring directly through their MicroMD EHR, seamlessly enrolling patients to Carium.

IPH went live with this integration on June 10.

"The integration between Carium and our EHR allows us to be there for our patients every day," says IPH Chief Operating Officer Anthony Harris, MSW. "Our patients know we care and are keeping an eye on them, and it's also a great tool for accountability. Before, we didn't know if they took their medication until they come in the next time for a follow-up. Now we take their blood pressure twice a day, so we have an accurate account of what they're doing."

Anthony Harris, MSW, chief operating officer for the Institute of Population Health. Photo courtesy IPH.

"The integration process was easy, straightforward, and the project team was very responsive," adds Mark Lynn, IPH's chief information officer for technology services. "By incorporating the timely data from patients' daily life into our clinicians' workflows, they're able to communicate more efficiently, and make recommendations or adjustments in real-time when necessary."

In addition, discrete data automatically flows from Carium-managed devices to the connected EHR, enabling the IPH team to easily run required quality reports.

Harris has served health departments during a 25-year career, starting out managing HIV and STD patients, then moving on to IPH when it formed in 2012.

"People still kept coming here, so we stayed open," Harris says.

In his role as COO, "I have 10 hats here," he says.

So far, IPH has enrolled 30 patients in the remote monitoring program, but the funding provides for up to 80 patients, so recruitment continues to fill the remaining spots.

The Carium platform also allows for tracking more conditions over time, and Harris says the organization will expand its base to monitor chronic conditions like diabetes.

The EHR used by IPH did not have a complete set of application program interfaces (APIs) required to fully integrate the Carium platform, which is where the partnership with Smartlink Health Solutions enters the picture.

"Smartlink has the ability to automate some user interface procedures, where we can then interface with Smartlink's APIs to drive the pushing of the data in the EMR using the user interface and a set of automation technology that really does mouse clicks and button pushes within the EMR," says Scott Pradels, Carium's chief operating officer and co-founder.

Carium provides a range of connected remote monitoring devices from various manufacturers, using both cellular and Bluetooth connectivity. The platform is also able to support connectable devices supplied by patients.

Carium charges a small monthly fee for each connected patient, Pradels says.

“Before, we didn't know if they took their medication until they come in the next time for a follow-up. Now we take their blood pressure twice a day, so we have an accurate account of what they're doing.”

Scott Mace is a contributing writer for HealthLeaders.


The Institute for Population Health is using digital health technology to enhance positive health outcomes in the community it serves.

The technology replaces less frequent blood pressure readings, which had to be delivered to physicians via manual notifications.

A partnership with Smartlink Health Solutions addressed shortcomings in the FQHC's EHR to complete the integration.

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