HealthBridge and Greater Cincinnati Providers Rolling Out a New Alert System

The New ED Admit Alert System Will Improve Care by Helping to Reduce Unnecessary Emergency Department and Hospital Visits and Promoting Better Care in the Doctor’s Office

Cincinnati, OH – HealthBridge announced today the successful go-live of a new ED Admit Alert System developed through the Greater Cincinnati Beacon Collaboration (GCBC). 33 primary care practices are currently receiving alerts and a total of 85 are expected to go-live in the coming weeks. This new system is designed to give practices real-time information to keep patients healthier.

Research has shown that approximately one-third of emergency department (ED) visits are preventable.  20 percent of Medicare patients admitted to a hospital are readmitted within 30 days of being released, and most of these readmissions are preventable. Unnecessary ED visits and readmissions drive up health care costs significantly.  One solution to this problem is more timely notification to a patient’s doctor that the patient has had an ED visit or hospital admission. Doctors and nurses can then make sure the patient gets follow-up care in the doctor’s office.

HealthBridge and a group of community partners and providers involved with GCBC worked together to institute and test the new real-time ED Admit Alert System to fill this gap in communication.

“Whether a medication adjustment, patient education or more routine primary care appointments are needed, providers now have better information to reach out to patients and determine exactly what the best next step should be,” states Pattie Bondurant, DNPc MN RN, Director of the Greater Cincinnati Beacon Collaboration. “This innovative approach to care has the potential to not only reduce ED visits and hospital admissions, but greatly improve the patient-provider relationship.”

HealthBridge receives messages from 21 hospitals when an inpatient admission or ED visit occurs. Under the new system, ED or admit messages are matched against patient panels from participating practices to see if any patients with diabetes or asthma are present. If a match is found, an alert is routed electronically to the patient’s care team. Because the alert system is done in real-time, primary care providers are immediately notified.

Earlier this year, HealthBridge and its Beacon partners began working with area Beacon pediatric and adult primary care practices to pilot test the electronic alert system. Immediately, practices began re-thinking follow-up with patients after an alert was received.

“The new ED Admit Alert System has made our entire team more aware of what is going on with our patients outside of our office in way we couldn’t easily know before.  These alerts and our process to address them is really transforming our thinking and approach to care,” stated Dr. Christine Burrows of UC Health. “This new information is making our practice team ask ‘What is the next dot that we need to connect to keep our patients healthy?’ As a Patient Centered Medial Home, we see our role as reaching out and coordinating care in a way that can limit ED visits and keep our patients well.

Practices are using the alert system in a variety of innovative ways. Some practices are utilizing alerts to follow up with their high-risk adult diabetes population.  Practice staff can then use this information to follow up with the patient to provide the care they need in this critical time.

In some practices, staff members are using a phone script or letter with patients, reminding them about access to appointments outside regular business hours and office phone numbers. When called, patients are impressed that the provider knows about their utilization and often make follow up appointments with the provider at that time.

At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s practices and at community pediatric practices across the region, care teams are combining this new information with existing clinical improvement tools to achieve better outcomes for children with asthma.

“We had already been doing work with our own internal alerts from Cincinnati Children’s. But, after go-live, we began receiving information from other providers in the community, including some facilities which we did not anticipate would have any significant volume for our patient population. This allowed us to reach out to these asthma patients regardless of where they go for care. Receiving the alerts from one platform reduces the work involved for our staff,” stated Dr. Mona Mansour, Director-Primary Care and School Health Services-Division of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

HealthBridge is a grantee under the Beacon Community Program funded by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology. Greater Cincinnati is one of the 17 ONC-funded Beacon Communities that are building and strengthening local health IT infrastructure and testing innovative approaches to make measurable improvements in quality, cost and population health.

“The ED Alert System is the culmination of months of diligent work among the GCBC partners,” stated Craig Brammer, Director of the Beacon Community Program at ONC. “This marriage of information technology and practice workflow changes is the core of 21st Century health care innovation and one of the primary goals of the Beacon Program.”

Greater Cincinnati Beacon Collaboration partners supporting this program include the HealthBridge, the Greater Cincinnati Health Council, the Health Collaborative, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the University of Cincinnati and dozens of area hospitals and physician practices.

Written by Trudi Matthews
Tuesday, 29 May 2012