What Patients Forget, HealthlinkNY Remembers
The Institute for Family Health Has been using electronic health records since 2002. But as a Level 3 patient-centered medical home, it needs to see the complete picture of the patients under its care. That’s why the Institute depends on HealthlinkNY to supply all the pieces of a patient’s medical record.
“All the information [you need] is on one page,” says Hannah Pelletier, LPN, a care coordinator and one of HealthlinkNY’s most active users. Shes uses the HealthlinkNY Health Information Exchange an average of 5 times a day as she manages care for dozens of patients at the Institute’s Kingston, New York location. “HealthlinkNY is what connects it all together.”
Pelletier says HealthlinkNY helps her in four different ways:
1. Getting to know a patient.
The local hospital refers discharged patients to the Institute, a federally qualified health center, for follow-up care when patients do not have a regular doctor. If patients have been hospitalized, they have a medical history and the Institute’s care managers need to know what it is. They get all the information from HealthlinkNY with just a couple of clicks. Pelletier says she can access HealthlinkNY directly from her screen because HealthlinkNY is connected directly to the Institute’s electronic health records system. “It’s as easy as typing in a patient’s name and pulling up the page,” she says.
2. Preventing readmissions.
Pelletier works with patients who frequent the emergency department. She makes it a point to call patients within three days of discharge to find out how they are doing. “Patients are surprised and pleased to see that we are calling because we are interested in them and in helping them keep up with their care,” Pelletier says. “We go over a lot of things, like whether they have a follow-up appointment, have all their medications, and if they need a Medicaid cab to go to the doctor.” This allows the Institute to help patients keep up with their discharge plans.
3. Knowing what happened.
With the detailed data available in HealthlinkNY, Institute staff see why patients went to the emergency department, and what happened while they were there. “Sometimes patients don’t remember why they went to the hospital,” Pelletier says. Or maybe patients may know, but don’t want to share that information if it involves substance use, she notes. “They are more comfortable sharing when they know that I know why they were in the emergency department,” she says.
4. Alerts on patient readmissions.
Pelletier says HealthlinkNY also alerts her if a patient returns to the emergency room, and sometimes helps her track down patients when their home addresses and telephone numbers change. “It’s usually updated in the HealthlinkNY system,” she says.
Pelletier is just a year out of nursing school, and she thinks student nurses should be taught what HIEs can contribute to patient care. “It’s a huge aspect of healthcare,” she says. “It’s an important resource that would benefit any doctor’s office or agency. It makes the relationship with the patient stronger.”
To learn more about The Institute for Family Health visit www.institute.org.
To learn more about connecting to HealthlinkNY, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 844.840.0050.