The James P. Wilmot Cancer Center has a 30-year history of excellence in patient care, research, education and community outreach in central New York State. It offers a wide range of state-of-the-art treatment options, including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy and blood and bone marrow transplantation.
Challenges of new patient intake
With some of the best oncologists and surgeons in the country, according to America’s Top Doctors for Cancer, it is no surprise the University of Rochester Medical Center’s James P. Wilmot Cancer Center treats hundreds of patients each day. According to Lynn Levandowski, Clinical Administrator, the Cancer Center has over 200 patients in one day, although the typical volume is between 100-200 patients daily. “We’ll also receive 40-50 new patients each week,” stated Levandowski.
Coordinating the care for a large volume of patients can be a huge burden on the staff, especially in a setting where doctors and patients are fighting against potentially deadly diseases. Even with a clerical staff of 23 and a dedicated new patient intake coordinator, one of the most diffcult and labor intensive administrative tasks is obtaining new patient records, said Catherine Lyons, RN, MS, CNAA, Associate Director, Clinical Services. “Hard copies of patient films have to be mailed and returned, which is diffcult to track. Plus, we usually experience delays with outside institutions mailing the films to us.”
Timely and efficient care is crucial for these patients. When Lyons heard about a service offered by eHealth Technologies™ that streamlines the process for obtaining patient records from other medical centers and physician offices, she quickly organized a meeting to learn more.
eHealth Technologies is a leading medical record services provider in North America. The company combines information technology with a clinical support team to retrieve, digitize, organize, store and secure patient medical records.
In late 2005, the James P. Wilmot Cancer Center began using eHealth Technologies eHealth Connect® Record Retrieval Service to obtain new patient records. They experienced instant results. “We saw an immediate impact on our staff workflow and efficiency,” noted Levandowski, “and we were able to schedule more patients.”
Access to Images
Obtaining a patient’s prior medical images is a crucial component to treatment. “We need to know what tests – and in particular imaging studies – the patient has had and when those were conducted,” said Levandowski. Approximately half of the patient records that eHealth Technologies obtains are film; the service digitizes and uploads them to a secure website for viewing. With advanced imaging technology such as MRI and PET/CT, it is not uncommon for a patient’s record to contain 1,500 images.
The average turn-around time at URMC from the initial request to compilation of the complete patient record is three days. For Lyons, having outside images and documents organized digitally before the patient arrives for his/her consultative appointment streamlines patient care. “We can get patients into the center much faster and make better use of that first appointment because more information is readily available,” she noted. Lyons knows her staff is more efficient even though she hasn’t measured the results. “eHealth Connect certainly cuts down on the time it takes to procure records in advance of the new patient visit.”
“We saw immediate impact on our staff workflow and efficiency. We were even able to schedule more patients.”
Lynn Levandowski, Clinical Administrator, Cancer Center
Streamlining the patient care process
Nearly 40 percent of the record requests are outside the metropolitan Rochester area, even as far as Florida and California. The staff at eHealth Technologies must often contact different sites and offices to gather a patient’s complete history.
Receiving outside images and documents organized digitally before the patient arrives for his/her appointment streamlines patient care.
“This service truly streamlines the patient care process and enables us to see a new patient in a timely manner,” said Levandowski. “If we urgently need a record, I know we can get it as soon as possible through eHealth Connect without placing any burden on the patient. They already have enough to worry about.”