February is American Heart Month, when health care organizations are focused on raising awareness around the prevalence and prevention of heart disease. I can’t think of a better time to spotlight the important work eHealth Technologies is doing to support Cardiac Care across the country.
Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death among men and women of most racial and ethnic groups in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 655,000 people die from heart disease each year – that’s 1 in every 4 deaths – and its economic toll is enormous.
Heart disease cost America $555 billion in 2016 and by 2035 could skyrocket to $1.1 trillion, according to the latest health metrics from the American Heart Association.
These statistics alone are startling – and today that burden is multiplied as health systems are overloaded with an influx of patients affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Collectively these factors put increasing pressure on health care organizations to be able to schedule patients quickly and effectively utilize the valuable specialists available. Institutions that receive patient referrals from outside their network are particularly at a disadvantage when trying to schedule new patient appointments – all too often, they face delays in receiving patient authorizations, relevant records, images, and corresponding reports that are critical in making these first (in person or telehealth) appointments as productive as possible.
In my daily work with cardiology leaders, I’ve come to understand why effective record retrieval is so complex and highly time-sensitive. Here are six of the key lessons I’ve gleaned:
- 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. Some specialties require only reports – but for cardiac patients, clinical care teams need actual medical images such as an echocardiogram or a cardiac CATH and the corresponding reports. eHealth Technologies can typically deliver these images and reports in one to five days.
- Records must be retrieved from multiple sources. Due to the nature of primary care and cardiac services, clinical teams are tasked with tracking down and retrieving patient records and images from multiple sources and locations such as a doctor’s office, hospital, or medical imaging lab. Individual offices and organizations coordinate record releases in different ways – making it cumbersome and time-consuming to obtain the right information in time for a productive patient visit.
- When tracking patient records, every minute counts! No organization today has the resources to do the level of follow up necessary to ensure the “right” information is received AND clinically organized, not to mention, available within the organizations EHR. Without a dedicated team like eHealth Technologies – which continually tracks and retrieves that information – it can take weeks to obtain important records. Requests from doctors’ offices often take multiple follow-up calls. Our team completes a daily schedule of calls to ensure patient records are obtained as quickly as possible. We maintain a positive relationship and stay in close communication with the administrative staff at each office, so nothing slips through the cracks.
- Retrieving records for cardiology patients presents its own set of challenges. Where do you even begin? Patient records can reside in multiple departments – medical records, medical imaging, cardiology, cardiac catherization lab, etc. Our eHealth team expedites that process – they understand hospital operations inside-out and know exactly where to go for each type of record request.
- Receiving medical images directly to your PACS system is a game-changer. No longer do facilities have to deal with CD’s coming into the organization, with incorrect or non existent MRN’s, missing images or even the completely wrong studies. Using our Imaging Integration Services, our customers can have medical images sent directly to their PACS system. This saves valuable time and eliminates the costly, manual process of downloading from CDs and QA files, then uploading them to the PACS system.
- Reports are complex and sometimes illegible. Some reports for cardiac 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 and this is all made available seamlessly within the organizations EHR. This saves valuable time and eliminates the need for a patient to repeat a test.
eHealth Technologies is a committed partner in cardiac care. Until our country wins the battle against heart disease, eHealth will continue its commitment to expedite the retrieval and delivery of records that are vital to effective, timely patient care – whether it’s a patient’s first appointment or a follow-up visit. Our goal is to help customers decrease time to treatment, improve the patient experience, and contribute to increased 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 at the core of what we do.