Access to Patient Records Helps Coordinate Care for Diverse Community
Two years ago, Beebe Medical Group faced a challenge common to healthcare providers: they were having difficulty getting a comprehensive picture of their patients’ care. Based in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, Beebe Medical Group serves a community that is both a popular beach town, with an influx of out-of-town visitors, and a retirement haven, with many residents who migrate south for the winter. Beebe Medical Group providers needed to be able to see their patients’ records whether care was delivered locally or across the country.
In addition, Beebe Medical Group is also part of a larger health system, Beebe Healthcare. While Beebe Medical Group uses athenaOne to manage its ambulatory practices, the primary hospital, Beebe Medical Center, uses Cerner to manage its inpatient facilities. As patients get care at both locations, Beebe Medical Group providers needed a means to easily access records from Beebe Medical Center and connect across platforms.
Coordinating Care with Healthcare Teams
Healthcare delivery is rapidly changing for providers across the country and Beebe Medical Group is meeting these changes head on. “Gone is the day where you had a physician, and maybe one specialist that you went to once in a while. We are now in the era of healthcare teams and because of that things can get messy,” says Dr. Jeffrey Hawtof, Vice President of Medical Operations and Informatics at Beebe Healthcare. Although patients get team-based care, providers still record their treatment in separate notes that live in separate, siloed systems. In this environment, coordinating care is not only more necessary, but also more difficult.
To meet this challenge, Beebe Medical Group began using the Patient Record Sharing functionality in athenaClinicals. Patient Record Sharing is athenahealth’s ability to exchange patient medical records with outside care sites—via the athenahealth client network, CommonWell, and Carequality—and to use those records to positively impact care. Built into athenaClinicals, Patient Record Sharing automatically searches our extensive network of care sites, locates the patient’s medical records and surfaces those records directly in athenaNet, giving providers access to the data they need to deliver care. Through Patient Record Sharing Beebe Medical Group can easily access records from Beebe Medical Center, which uses Cerner, and from care sites across the country.
Eliminating Extra Administrative Work
Prior to using Patient Record Sharing, exchanging records with other providers was “such a nuisance,” Dr. Hawtof notes. “I could wait two, three, four weeks for outside records to arrive—or I could just order the tests and start treating the patient.” Dr. Hawtof says this issue not only caused unnecessary testing for patients, but also created tedious, inefficient work for his staff—and they weren't compensated for this extra administrative work.
A Complete Picture of Care
For Beebe Medical Group, there are many benefits to using Patient Record Sharing. First, it cuts out the administrative work of tracking down records and saves time for both staff and providers. “With Patient Record Sharing, the information is there,” explains Dr. Hawtof. “You open your chart and it’s there.”
With access to outside records, providers also can avoid duplicate treatment and tests. For example, a patient once came into Dr. Hawtof’s office to receive a pneumonia shot. When he examined her record, though, he discovered that she had recently been in the hospital and had received a pneumonia shot during her stay, but it had been the wrong type of shot. This allowed Dr. Hawtof to change course. “We were about to give her a shot that she didn’t need, if I hadn’t seen that,” he says, “so I was able to avoid giving her something that she wasn’t clinically indicated for and wait the correct period of time, before giving her the shot she was clinically indicated for.”
In addition, Beebe providers can use these outside records to gain a more comprehensive view of their patients’ medications. With patients increasingly receiving treatment from disparate care settings, Dr. Hawtof notes, “medication reconciliation is probably the single most important thing we do in primary care these days.” Patient Record Sharing gives providers access to key data like medications, problems, allergies, and immunizations from outside care sites and gives them the option to reconcile this data into the patient’s chart. This helps primary care providers ensure that medications prescribed by one doctor don’t adversely interact with those given by another.
Quality Care for a Diverse Population
Now that Dr. Hawtof and his team use Patient Record Sharing, they are equipped with key patient data needed to deliver coordinated care for their growing community. “When all is said and done,” notes Dr. Hawtof, “the patients who have the best coordination of care and the best navigation through the system are typically the ones who achieve the best results.”