Building a connected healthcare community: One practice at a time

Sandra Schubert, M.D., of Superior Med in Cambridge believes the electronic transmission of health information helps her keep right on top of her patients’ care when and where they need it. That’s because the information comes to her when and where she needs it.

Even when a patient ends up in the hospital without her knowledge.

Keeping up with your patient’s care
Dr. Schubert had an elderly patient living at home who incurred a major fracture, went to the ER, was transferred to Ohio State, had major surgery and other underlying conditions surfaced. The patient ended up at a nursing facility.

Before the CliniSync Health Information Exchange (HIE), Dr. Schubert says she may have found out about that patient through a family member she was treating or might not have known what happened to her patient until three months later, even six months later.

Instead, she received an electronic Continuity of Care Document (CCD) – often referred to as a summary of care or discharge summary – from Ohio State where she could read what happened, look at the operative notes, the labs, the discharge planning.

“I know what to expect now. I know what’s going on with my patient. I can follow along with the patient’s care,” she says. There’s an information list there and she still needs to find the information she needs and look at it. “But it has made things better, especially if you have patients you want to keep up on.”

Becoming a healthcare community

Dr. Schubert says Superior Med has 18 providers who provide multi-specialty medical services, comprised of physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. They cover Guernsey and Noble Counties and beyond, and also partner with Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center.

“My practice is internal medicine and pediatrics – from the cradle to the grave – my oldest patient is 102,” Dr. Schubert says, explaining that she has been practicing in Cambridge for 18 years.
Superior Med receives results, reports and summaries of care from Genesis Healthcare based in Portsmouth, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus and Southeastern Ohio Regional Medical Center in Cambridge.

Eric Bradison, a systems analyst and patient portal administrator at Southeastern Med, says working with physicians and providers in the community is a focus of the hospital system’s work.
“Since joining the Southeastern Med team in 2013 one of my goals has been to assist our physicians and providers by helping them understand and learn the capabilities available to them through healthcare IT as well as how it can benefit their individual practices, Bradison says.

Even though she’s a guinea pig, Dr. Schubert has been an incredible asset to the initiative.

While working with her and her office staff through the implementation of Clinisync, our HIE, Dr. Schubert has played a vital role by being our first office to fully implement the functionality Clinisync provides,” Bradison says. “She has taken the time to get to know the benefits of the application and how it can work for her medical practice.”

As more hospitals go live on the CliniSync HIE, Superior Med will receive more health information. The multi-specialty group also is receiving messages through Direct, secure messaging from pharmacies when patients are immunized for the flu or pneumonia.

Getting the right information at your fingertips

“The nicest thing is that when a patient goes to the hospital, whether ER, inpatient or outpatient, the labs they have done there go directly into their patient chart, and I’m able to pull them up with a few clicks of a button,” explains Dr. Schubert.

She’s also able to filter out the labs she doesn’t find useful and zone in on those she does. “So, I’m not gunging up my chart with a lot of information. It’s faster and more complete.”
The electronic results also allow her to trend and graph a patient’s progress over time. For instance, she can track the A1C levels of a diabetic patient over time or the TSH levels for those with a thyroid problem to compare earlier results.

Experiencing safety, quality and speed

“The CCDs just show up and can be parsed out and made into a separate discharges summary or medicine list, which you can update. You can pick and choose what you want to do. If you receive a pneumonia or flu report from the hospital, it will automatically update the immunization. We have the same ability with procedures,” she explains.

Does electronic communications affect clinical decision-making? Dr. Schubert answer yes. “With the labs coming in like that, it lightens up my staff load and saves man hours. There’s less risk of error with same or similar names. They’re not entering the labs by hand, which means less chance for error. So on that end, there’s safety and quality. I think it makes everything safer.”

The other side is that she really wants those labs at her fingertips. “I don’t know about other physicians, but I like having labs and ER information quickly – really fast. It’s there for me. If a patient calls up the next day, I know what they’re talking about,” she explains.

Moving towards ideal HIT

In an ideal electronic world, Dr. Schubert would like the ability for her practice to send information to the hospital and others. “I know a hospital is run differently, and there are many different departments, but I’d rather electronically send information instead of faxing it.”

The CliniSync HIE now has the ability for hospitals and providers to “contribute” data to a patient’s community health record – a longitudinal health record that allows a consenting patient’s treating physicians from hospitals and practices to view information on that patient all in one place.

Bradison believes health information exchange will continue to grow as IT influences the entire healthcare industry.
“In today’s healthcare world, IT is playing a role that soon will be vital to all healthcare organizations. Working with clinicians like Dr. Schubert makes a seemingly complex task almost appear easy. She has paved the way to making health IT (HIT) a reality for the Southeastern Med multi-physician group Superior Med,” Bradison says.

Dottie Howe, M.A., M.Ed., is the Communications Director at CliniSync/Ohio Health Information Partnership.

 

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