Best Practices for Cardiology Medical Record Retrieval

eHealth Technologies Blog: Rebecca Isaman, Director of Customer Success, eHealth Technologies

As we enter heart month, it makes me reflect on the important work that eHealth Technologies is doing to support cardiology departments across the county. Heart disease effects so many Americans – according to the American Heart Association, cardiovascular disease is listed as an underlying cause of death for about 1 in every 3 Americans. Based on data from Johns Hopkins Medicine, approximately 84 million people in the US suffer from cardiovascular disease, and the indirect costs of cardiovascular disease and stroke is $315 billion per year and growing.

These statistics demonstrate why there is increasing pressure on health systems to be able to schedule patients quickly and decrease their time to treatment. Institutions that receive patient referrals from outside their network are often at a disadvantage when trying to schedule their new patient appointments because of the lack of medical records, images, and corresponding reports that are needed to make these first appointments as meaningful as possible.

Working with cardiology leaders on a daily basis, I have come to realize why supporting their needs from a medical record retrieval and organization standpoint is so complex.

Images and reports are critical.

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.

The source of records can be a doctor’s office or a hospital.

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 requires multiple follow-up calls. Our team has a schedule of calls that are completed daily to ensure records are obtained as quickly as possible, in a way that maintains 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.

Access to images via your PACS.

Using our integration services, customers can have medical images sent directly to their PACS system. Not having to download from CDs, QA files, 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 cardiology images are pushed to a separate PACS system, while not interrupting the flow of images being uploaded for other departments in your organization from eHealth Technologies to the main PACS system.

Reports are complex and sometimes illegible.

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.

Unfortunately, the need for treatment of cardiac conditions continues to grow – the American Heart Association projects that through 2030, medical costs of Coronary Heart Disease are projected to increase by 100 percent. eHealth Technologies is committed to supporting our partners to ensure that clinicians have the information they need for a patient’s first appointment. This 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. Improving care and impacting the lives of clinicians and patients is always at the core of what we do.