Automated Roles And Message Routing Improve Physician Satisfaction and Patient Care

When physician practices bring new providers on board, it can be challenging to ensure that patient workload doesn’t disproportionately fall on the established providers. Existing providers are typically paged more often, even if they aren’t on-call, just because they have been at the practice longer and their names are recognized in the community. This results in time lost connecting to the correct provider. It also means that physicians’ vacations and other times out of the office get unnecessarily interrupted. Physician satisfaction and patient care can be adversely affected.

WakeMed Pediatric Endocrinology decided to work with MD Interconnect to address that challenge before adding the next provider. Their on-call schedule was built into the RapidConnect secure messaging platform, and a new role called “Pediatric Endocrinologists On-Call” was created. Local hospital ED’s and community physicians were asked to use this on-call role instead of physician names so that messages would be answered quickly.

The Pediatric Endocrinologists who were not on call were then able set their status as unavailable, so that all messages would automatically forward to their on call partner. This prohibited users from circumventing the role.

See the complete use case here.


RapidConnect Ensures Continuity of Care and HIPAA Compliance for Hospitalists

The use of hospitalists is now standard practice in the United States, with more than 44,000 hospitalists in the country today. Hospitalists provide a number of benefits to hospitals, referring physicians and patients as a result of their understanding of a hospital’s procedures, information systems, and personnel. But, a lack of familiarity with a patient and his/her history could result in discontinuity of care.

Ensuring continuity of care

Ensuring continuity of care top of mind for WakeMed Health and Hospitals as it sought to improve communication between their hospitalist service, the ED, inpatient care team, specialty consulting services and primary care teams. They turned to RapidConnect for help.

Connecting with providers through traditional methods of communication via offices, P2P lines and answering services can be cumbersome, time consuming and unsecure. Supporting direct and speedy communication between services hinges on ensuring that up-to-date on-call information is easily accessible to providers as they move from location to location.

Streamlining communication

RapidConnect streamlines the collection of on-call information through a user friendly call schedule builder and cross platform integrations including LightingBolt, AMiON, Qgenda, and others. QuickCover allows for coverage changes to be handled directly from a provider’s mobile app and RapidConnect’s automated message routing eliminates the stress of remembering practice-specific coverage rules.

HIPAA Compliance

RapidConnect sped up provider to provider communication while ensuring HIPAA compliance, making it easy for providers, inside and outside the hospital, to share specific patient health information, and reducing possibilities for discontinuity of care. WakeMed Physician Practices- Hospital Medicine, while sending and receiving over 12,000 messages a month on RapidConnect, maintains average response times of under 4 minutes, enabling more efficient communication with specialists, primary care providers, nursing and ancillary staff – connecting the entire care team and ultimately improving patient care.

See the complete use case here.


Is your EMR setting you up for Secure Messaging success?

Most EMRs today have a secure text messaging component as part of their offering. The thought of having everything in one suite of products may seem appealing. But in reality, few EMR secure messaging applications actually meet the functional requirements and user preferences of today’s physicians.

If your physicians and providers aren’t willing to use the secure messaging EMR then you might as well not have it.

This is the first blog post in a multi-part series to help you determine if an EMR secure messaging solution is the right fit for your organization and physicians.
If you are thinking about using your current or future EMR for secure messaging, here are a few things that should be considered:

Communicating beyond hospital integrated providers

Let’s start with the fact that the EMR messaging solution is typically limited to care providers within the same EMR system. What about the providers outside your EMR system such as private practice physicians with their own practice based EMR?

While outpatient messaging volume may be less than 20% of total message volume, this area actually has the greatest potential to impact patient experience and collaborative patient management. This is particularly true when trying to manage care transitions across the continuum. Furthermore, by engaging your entire care community, you increase referrals and decrease leakage from your network. To truly have a successful secure messaging strategy, you must include providers and care teams across the entire healthcare continuum, not just with integrated providers.

Does your EMR messaging application do the following?

  • Allow for broad distribution to outpatient-based physicians, including locally based private practice and regional referring doctors without running afoul of anti-kickback laws.
  • Allow practice call schedules to be viewed in system?
  • Provide information about patients who are being directed to an Urgent Care/Emergency.

Reaching the right people at the right time

Service lines have varied workflows that can utilize different team members (i.e. residents, APP, fellows, attendings, etc) at different times of the day depending on the type of message, as well as the availability of personnel. Each service line has their own “rules” about which resource should receive messages when. This often can change multiple times during one 24-hour period. For example, within the Urology service the APP might receive all ED consults until 5:00 pm, at which point message routing will switch to the Urology resident, then after 10 pm it might switch again to the on-call attending. This change in message routing rules occurs more often now due to residency work hour restrictions.

Does your EMR messaging application route messages based on the following?

  • Patient’s location (in hospital? In ED? In physician office?)
  • Patient/provider history (Established patient vs. new consults)
  • Service line ‘rules’ established workflows, hierarchies and call schedules

Giving physicians more control

Physicians are one of your most valuable resources. Keeping them satisfied and preventing burnout is critical to their productivity and longevity within your organization. Many physicians already struggle with being too available to their colleagues and patients. Your secure messaging solution has to not only fit within their existing workflow, but is it must offset any concerns your physicians have about making themselves even more accessible.

Does your EMR messaging application allow your physicians to do the following?

  • Easily control when others can reach them without signing in/signing out at every transition.
  • Automatically limit access, based on call schedules
  • Assign a staff proxy to check their messages WITHOUT accessing the their personal phone or asking for their EMR password.
  • To transfer their on-call status to someone else from a mobile app (virtual “hold my pager.”)

These are just a few of things you should consider when evaluating solutions to ensure they meet all of your functional and user requirements. To learn more about how your EMR secure messaging solution measure up, see our complete checklist for Mobile Communication System Success or schedule a time to speak with someone who can help guide you through that process.


RapidConnect Helps Improve Early Access to Quality Psychiatry Care for Children

Approximately 13% of youth aged 8-15 experience a severe mental health disorder at some point in their life. A much higher percentage of children suffer from common mental health concerns including anxiety, ADHD, and depression. Sadly, without the right treatment at an early age, these mental health disorders can lead to consequences like suicide, incarceration, homelessness, and school dropout.

Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago recognized that the early identification and treatment of mental health concerns was essential to the care of the whole child. They also recognized that the need for mental health services was greater than what could be supported by traditional visits to their specialists. With that in mind, they launched the MAACC (Mood, Anxiety, ADHD Collaborative Care) program to improve early access to quality psychiatry care closer to home.

nurse communicationThe goal of the program was to train and assist the primary care community to provide specifically defined mental health services while providing better access to Lurie specialists for certain situations. This program serves children and young adults suffering from anxiety, ADHD and depression. To date, 15 Lurie Clinically Integrated Network practices and 65 primary care physicians (PCPs) have elected to participate in the program.

PCPs needed a way to send Protected Health Information (PHI) securely so that they could ask specific questions and provide the required background information for the specialists. In addition, Lurie’s psychiatry service team wanted to automatically route the questions coming in through the MAACC program to different resources depending on the type of question.

RapidConnect was introduced to facilitate that direct and secure communication between the trained PCP and the Lurie psychiatry specialty team.

In less than three months, at least 32 different PCPs have used RapidConnect to securely connect to Lurie Children’s psychiatry service to better address the mental health needs of their pediatric patients through referrals, medications and assessments.   And, more than 30 children have already received much needed care through their PCP in collaboration with Lurie Children’s psychiatry specialists.

To learn more about the role RapidConnect plays in the success of Lurie’s MAACC (Mood, Anxiety, ADHD Collaborative Care) program, read the complete case study or contact us to learn more.


How Better Physician-Nursing Communication Leads to Better Patient Care

As the primary patient caregivers, nurses are responsible for most of a patient’s direct care. Ensuring nurses have the information they need from physicians to manage that patient’s care is critical. When that communication is delayed or inaccurate, the quality and timeliness of patient care is affected. This can lead to medical errors, extended wait times, delayed discharges, poor decision making, and increased stress. All of those factors can negatively impact patient outcomes and a hospital’s bottom line.

Delayed or inefficient communication can be attributed to dead cellular/page services within the hospital, paging the wrong level of provider, incorrect or unpublished call schedules, uncertainty in the delivery of one-way communication, and waiting for call backs and shift changes.

WakeMed Health and Hospitals turned to RapidConnect to help improve communication between nurses and physicians, with the goal of improving patient care. The hospital deployed RapidConnect to all nurse workstations and to the over 800 shared mobile devices used by nursing to manage bedside.

Using RapidConnect, nurses were given direct access to providers and a quick and easy way to view call schedules. They no longer have to wait for a call back to share clinical information, can see read receipts on RapidConnect, can easily access accurate call schedules, and can easily forward information at shift change ensuring a clear line of communication. Providers can now reply directly to the floor nurses via RapidConnect instead of calling the charge nurse and getting transferred.

Based on their success, nursing management requested that additional ancillary services be given access to RapidConnect. Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Case Managers, Diabetes Nurse Educators and Wound Care Nurses have all started using RapidConnect too, increasing robust communication throughout the entire system.

To learn more about how better communication is helping WakeMed improve patient care, see the use case here. Or contact us directly to talk about your communication needs.


Helping ACOs Avoid Unnecessary ED Visits and Improve Total Cost of Care

At the NAACOS Fall 2018 Conference earlier this month, we had the opportunity to speak with a number of ACO leaders. During those conversations, we heard some common themes over and over again. Not surprisingly, one of the most “popular” themes was around engaging physicians in driving down the total cost of care.

The number of Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) has grown from 27 in 2012 to 561 in 2018. While ACOs were created as part of the Affordable Care Act, to help manage the increasing costs of healthcare, many still struggle to accomplish that goal even six years later. During that same time, the cost of Emergency Department visits has risen more than 31 percent to nearly $2000 per visit. And, research shows that up to 27 percent of those ED visits could have been avoided, through treatment in physician offices, clinics or urgent care centers at a savings of $4.4 billion annually (Weinick, Burns, & Mehrotra, 2010).

Managing Total Cost of Care

Wake Key Community Care (WKCC), with 1000 physicians and more than 210,000 lives under contract, has made great strides in managing Total Cost of Care. But, the ACO’s leadership sought to drive down unnecessary ED visits by improving direct access to on call specialists. They knew that with the ED as such a large cost driver, avoiding even a fraction of those visits would ensure that patients get better care while positively impacting costs.

With that goal in mind, WKCC selected RapidConnect as its preferred method of physician-to-physician communication, to streamline access to its on-call specialists and services.

“RapidConnect allowed providers to reach
a doctor specifically by name or merely by selecting the on-call provider for a particular service. Not only that, but because RapidConnect allows doctors to easily control their availability, the doctors didn’t have to worry about being contacted when they were off duty — it was a win-win situation,” said one physician.

ED Avoidance

A perfect example of ED avoidance involved a pediatric patient with suspected appendicitis. The normal course of action would have been to send the patient to the ED for further evaluation. However, through RapidConnect, the pediatrician reached out to the pediatric surgeon on call via secure text. Within two minutes, the pediatric surgeon received the message, called back, discussed the case and advised to send the patient directly to patient registration. The child was in surgery within two hours, and released to go home four hours after that.

Thanks to RapidConnect, the patient was able to avoid delays in the ED, potential unnecessary tests, delayed after-hours surgery and an overnight stay.

To learn more about how using RapidConnect is helping WKCC manage Total Cost of Care by avoiding unnecessary ED visits, see the use case here. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us.


Can better secure messaging drive more referrals for Orthopedics and other specialty practices?

According to Wake Orthopaedics, the answer to that question is an enthusiastic yes. After partnering with The North Carolina Football Club (NCFC), Wake Orthopaedics knew that fast and secure messaging would be key to providing timely care including same-day appointments.

With that in mind, they gave NCFC athletic trainers and physical therapists access to the RapidConnect secure messaging app, which now serves as the official communication pathway between the two organizations. Each month, an average of 90 secure texts are sent and received, enabling streamlined communication and a faster, collaborative treatment plan.

“With RapidConnect, appointment scheduling time has been cut in half, and communication to parents can typically take place on the same day. As a result, I send all my players to Wake Orthopaedics,” stated Jason Bailey, Athletic Trainer, North Carolina Football Club.

“RapidConnect has enabled us to build on established provider relationships (both within our system and the community) as well as access new opportunities with regional sports teams, trainers and therapists. Patient care questions, x-ray consultations, and follow-up arrangement are significantly more efficient and it has allowed our practice to increase access for referring providers,” shared Mark Wood, MD, Executive Medical Director, Physician Services, Wake Orthopaedics.

To learn more about how RapidConnect is helping Wake Orthopaedics improve communication and drive referrals, see the complete use case here.

To learn more about how RapidConnect can help you, contact us.


RapidConnect Helps Hospital Regain Key Cardiac Accreditation

WakeMed takes great pride in delivering world-class cardiovascular care, and has been recognized for doing just that over the years. Its Raleigh campus was the first hospital in the nation to achieve the American College of Cardiology Heart Failure Accreditation’s highest level of heart failure accreditation. In 2015, the hospital was also one of only 319 hospitals nationwide to receive the American College of Cardiology’s NCDR ACTION Registry–GWTG Platinum Performance Achievement Award.

However, in 2016 WakeMed was at risk of losing its American College of Cardiology (ACC) Heart Failure Accreditation after not meeting the ACC’s goal of having 75% of heart failure patients scheduled for a follow up visit within 7 days of a hospital discharge. Initially, WakeMed trained Advance Practice Providers (APPs) to use Epic’s Cadence module to schedule those appointments, but fell short of the 75% target. The biggest gap seemed to come with patients admitted to non-cardiology services and for patients discharged after hours and on weekends. Those patients were leaving the hospital before a follow-up appointment could be scheduled and/or added to their discharge papers.

They consulted with MD Interconnect after learning of the platform’s integration with Epic. Thanks to that collaboration, an automatic message is now sent through RapidConnect when heart failure discharge orders are created in Epic. That message is routed, in real-time, to someone who can schedule a follow-up appointment before the patient is discharged. The average RapidConnect read time for these discharge order messages is now 13 minutes. The heart failure follow-up appointment is quickly scheduled and that information is included on the patient’s discharge summary.

This new RapidConnect order discharge workflow went live in November of 2017. For the first time ever, WakeMed exceeded the ACC goal with a 85.9% appointment follow-up rate by the end of that month. With help from RapidConnect, they regained their accreditation and received a Silver Plus AHA award for that year.

To learn more about how RapidConnect is helping WakeMed increase the number of cardiac follow-up visits, see the complete use case here.

To learn more about how RapidConnect can help you, contact us.


Better Communication Helps Children’s Hospitals Respond to Unique Competitive Challenges

Children's hospitals are facing increased competition as health systems and community hospitals expand their pediatric services. As a result, children’s hospitals are seeking new and strategic ways to expand their presence and facilitate growth.

One strategy is partnering with local and regional facilities that don’t have the infrastructure or expertise to treat pediatric patients that require specialized care. This may be in the form of dedicated hospitalists, neonatologists, intensivists, and rotational clinics of selected pediatric sub-specialties at the community hospitals. By making their physicians, staff and expertise more accessible to community-based hospitals and physicians patients can receive pediatric services for low-acuity, short-stay visits closer to home and patients needing a higher level of care can be identified and transported appropriately.

According to the Children's Hospital Association, most dedicated children's hospitals are the sole regional providers for highly specialized services such as cardiac surgery and transplants, and they offer more than six times the number of services as general hospitals.

As a result, children’s hospitals are realizing that provider-to-provider communication outside their four walls is more important than ever before.

Ann & Robert H. Lurie’s Children’s Hospital of Chicago took a proactive approach to addressing communication challenges. Last year, the hospital served more than 198,000 children from 50 states and 51 countries. But, communication between referring physicians and Lurie Children’s specialists was often challenging because there were too many varied ways to reach specialists, and because PCPs did not always know which specialist to contact.

The hospital along with its clinically integrated network the Lurie Children’s Health Partners (LCHPCIN) chose to implement RapidConnect to facilitate better communication and coordination of care for Chicago’s pediatric patients. Implementing this solution would improve patient care and optimize resource utilization.

“As a NICU hospitalist, RapidConnect is a huge time saver. Now I can skip the operators and answering services and directly reach our outpatient pediatricians via voice or text in a HIPAA-compliant manner,” said Patrick Lyons, MD, Hospital Based Medicine, Lurie Children’s.

 

With help from RapidConnect, LCHPCIN specialists and primary care physicians can better coordinate consults, share results, communicate patient information, process admissions and more.

In the eleven months since the RapidConnect implementation, 2.600 messages have been sent which includes communication from 34 PCP practices and 28 divisions at Lurie Children’s. Response time is less than 3 minutes for 50 percent of messages

Currently, the system is connecting more than 155 community pediatric partners to Lurie Children’s CIN, with 28 hospital divisions participating. Adoption of Rapid Connect usage continues to increase as new divisions and practices come on board.

 

To learn more about how RapidConnect is helping Lurie Children’s, see the complete use case here.

To learn more about how RapidConnect, click here.


What role does your secure communication solution play in the hospital call center?

With the increased focus on patient satisfaction and its direct link to revenue and reimbursement, it is no surprise that call centers play an increasingly important role for hospitals. The question is, what role should your secure communication solution play in your hospital call center?

We took that question to Lisa Forte, who manages the Call Center at WakeMed Health & Hospitals. With responsibility for three full-service hospitals, more than 900 patient beds and 1,100 staff, Forte’s team fields an average of 75,000 calls per month.

Forte expected to see value from a WakeMed’s new secure communication solution, RapidConnect but was surprised by what it really delivered. By facilitating direct physician-to-physician communication, she hoped the solution would help decrease the number of calls coming through her call center. While she has indeed experienced a 50% decrease in physician-to-physician calls, there are a number of other benefits she and her team have experienced with the help of RapidConnect.

“One of the biggest benefits, is the impact it has had on our communication with the physicians. Historically, call center operators end up being the middlemen between the referring physician and the staff physician. Some physicians simply don’t like to provide the information we need to effectively facilitate that communication, so the operator has to go back and forth between the two. That is not an efficient use of time or resources, is a frustrating experience for everyone involved and can lead to unnecessary delays in patient care,” Forte explained.

“RapidConnect ensures that the right information is sent to the right providers, and also ensures that physicians receive the information in the manner they prefer. That allows the physician to immediately move forward and address the patient’s care, without losing time on time-consuming and frustrating back-and-forth communication,” she said.

Forte is also grateful that RapidConnect has helped the hospital establish one set of guidelines for secure communication. This ensures that everyone follow the same process, that messages are automatically sent to the right people at the right time, and eliminates frustration and confusion about the who, when and how of provider communication.

In the end, Forte believes that RapidConnect has helped her team and WakeMed by:

  • Reducing physician-to-physician call volume
  • Reducing the amount of time it takes to manage each call
  • Improving call center (and other hospital staff) employee satisfaction
  • Expediting patient care
  • Improving patient satisfaction

Has your secure communication solution done the same for you? To learn more, check out the WakeMed case study, request a RapidConnect demo or register for our upcoming webinar featuring Lisa Forte.