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Industry Insight

EMR Tool to Speed Patient Access to Specialists

The University of Virginia (UVA) Health System is piloting a new program that uses its EpicCare EMR system to speed patients’ access to specialists.

UVA is one of five academic medical centers in the United States testing the eConsults/eReferrals model; the five centers are supported by a $7 million grant from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. UVA began examining the model this month with four specialties: endocrinology, cardiology, digestive health, and neurology.

The program addresses a common challenge faced by primary care doctors across the country: There aren’t enough specialists to accommodate the needs for specialty care. This new program aims to make available additional appointments with specialists for patients with more complex medical conditions through technology; eConsults or eReferrals will let specialists answer more straightforward questions in some cases without requiring an appointment.

“If you can answer the least complex questions using this model and reduce appointments by 10%, you can open up more appointments for patients who will truly benefit from face-to-face interactions with specialty physicians,” says Chris Ghaemmaghami, MD, UVA’s chief medical officer.

Here’s a look at how primary care physicians will use eConsults and eReferrals:

• eConsults: Primary care physicians can ask specialists a quick question about a patient—for instance, consulting an endocrinologist on whether to adjust the insulin level for a patient with diabetes. The primary care physician will send a message through EpicCare to a specialist, who can review the patient’s medical history before making a recommendation. “This will ensure a specialist has all the information he or she needs and that the consult is documented in the patient’s medical record,” says Mohan Nadkarni, MD, a primary care physician at University Medical Associates in Charlottesville, Virginia.

• eReferrals: For cases requiring a more detailed review—such as a patient experiencing occasional chest pain—the primary care physician will fill out a template and answer a series of questions about the patient’s condition and medical history that is sent to the specialist. After a review of the eReferral, the specialist can determine if that patient needs an appointment. “This should greatly improve collaboration between primary care physicians and specialists,” Nadkarni says.

For patients who don’t need to be seen in person by a specialist, they can get the information they need to improve their health sooner, says Daniel McCarter, MD, a primary care physician at Stoney Creek Family Medicine in Nellysford, Virginia. For McCarter’s patients—who often travel long distances to see him—not having to make a second appointment with a specialist could spare them from taking a day off from work.

For patients with more serious conditions who need to make an appointment, this new model should enable them to get an appointment sooner.

“This is all part of UVA’s ongoing efforts to get patients the right care in the right place at the right time,” McCarter says.

— Source: University of Virginia


Mayo Clinic Selects Epic as Strategic Partner
for EHR and RCM System

Mayo Clinic recently announced that Epic has been selected as its strategic partner for a single, integrated EHR and revenue cycle management (RCM) system. The new system will replace Mayo’s three EHRs currently in use and will be a foundation for Mayo Clinic operations over the next several decades.

“With our staff working together on a common system, we will be able to accelerate innovation, enhance services, and provide a better experience for our patients,” says Dawn Milliner, MD, Mayo’s chief medical information officer.

The project team is expected to be in place by April 2015. The system will be built in 2015 and 2016, with implementation planned to begin in 2017. “The project team will include staff from Mayo Clinic, Epic, and external consulting organizations,” says Cris Ross, CIO at Mayo. “We are announcing our decision today so that we can begin to assemble the project team and launch the project.”

More than 45,000 Mayo staff will be trained to use the new EHR and RCM system. All terms and conditions of Mayo’s agreement with Epic are subject to final approval by the Mayo Clinic board of governors and board of trustees.

— Source: Mayo Clinic