eHealth Technologies Blog: Michelle Donowsky, RT(T), Executive Director of Clinical Optimization, eHealth Technologies
As I donned my red sweater in support of heart month, it made me reflect on the important work that eHealth Technologies is doing to support cardiology departments across the county. According to the most recent data released by the American Heart Association last week, at least 48% of all adults in the US have some form of cardiovascular disease cardiovascular and it is the number one killer of all Americans, claiming more than 840,000 lives in 2016.
As the number of patients needing care continues to rise, it is more important than ever for health systems to have efficient processes in place for new patient intake. When those new patients are referred from outside the network, access to medical records, images, and corresponding reports is difficult to obtain. Without a complete medical history, clinical teams may have to delay patient appointments and not have all of the data needed to develop an effective treatment plan without repeat testing.
What can cardiology departments do to streamline care for newly referred patients? Working with different cardiology groups around the country it’s clear that compiling records, images, and reports for cardiac patients is complex.
Clinical teams need access to images and reports
Most cardiology patients will have already had multiple diagnostic tests performed by the time they are referred to a specialist for treatment. With some specialties, just reports are needed, but for cardiology patients, the clinical team needs the actual medical images such as an echocardiogram or a cardiac CATH and the corresponding reports. eHealth Technologies can typically retrieve these images and reports in about three to five days.
Records, images, and reports will be found in different types of locations
Due to the nature of primary care and cardiology services, patients might have records and images that need to be retrieved from a doctor’s office and/or a hospital location. Each office and organization coordinates record release in its own way and keeping track of the right contact is cumbersome. Without a dedicated team, like eHealth Technologies continually tracking that information, it can take weeks to obtain important records. We also find that requests to a doctor’s office often require multiple follow-up calls. Our team has a schedule of calls that are completed daily to ensure records are obtained as quickly as possible, while maintaining a positive relationship with the office’s administrative staff, to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
Navigating hospitals for record retrieval has its own challenges for cardiology patients. Records can reside in multiple departments – medical records, medical imaging, cardiology, cardiac catherization lab, etc. Understanding hospital operations and knowing where to go for each type of record request expedites the process.
Image CDs are a clunky way to access medical imaging studies
Using our integration services, customers can have medical images sent directly to their PACS system. Not having to download from CDs, QA studies, and then upload them to the PACS system saves valuable time and eliminates a costly, manual process. We know that many cardiology departments have their own PACS system, separate from the main system used by the rest of the hospital. We can customize the integration so that images are pushed to a separate cardiology PACS, while not interrupting the flow of DICOM images being uploaded for other departments from eHealth Technologies to the centrailized PACS.
Cardiology reports can be unique and complex to access
Some reports for cardiology patients, such as tracings, can be difficult to read when they are sent via fax. eHealth Technologies has developed propriety techniques to ensure that the reports are fully legible for the clinical team. This can save valuable time and eliminate the need for a patient to have a repeat test.
Although there has been some improvement in risk reduction for cardiovascular disease over the past few years, the American Heart Association projects that through 2030, medical costs of Coronary Heart Disease are projected to increase by 100%. Being able to access complete medical histories for newly referred patients, and making this information easy for clinical teams to review is critical for cardiology departments. These factors not only can decrease time to treatment, but it can improve the patients’ experience, and contribute to an overall increase in staff satisfaction at your institution. We are proud of the expertise and best practices we have developed for record retrieval and organization for cardiology departments. Allowing our partners to focus on patient care, instead of paperwork, is our top priority.