Case Study Abstract

In support of its initiative to provide higher-quality care at a lower cost, a rural western Pennsylvania-
based hospital system needed to improve the efficiency of patient care transitions between employed and independent providers. The hospital network includes two major medical centers, 32 primary care provider and specialist offices supporting ~150 providers, and five outpatient centers. Its network of affiliate, or independent, providers includes ~150 primary care providers and ~100 specialists. These affiliate relationships allow the hospital system to refer patients to providers that specialize in areas not offered by its employed providers such as gastroenterology and urology.

BUSINESS CHALLENGES

The hospital network faced a challenge many healthcare systems face today. Its network, or employed, and affiliate sites use a variety of EMRs and technologies, making it difficult to transmit care documentation to the patient’s follow-up providers in a timely manner. In order to improve care transition efficiency, the network’s leadership needed to find a way to bridge the multiple platforms. Improvements in this area would also improve patient outcomes and readmissions – a metric largely monitored by private and government insurance programs.

While some healthcare systems can solve the multiple-EMR issue by standardizing on a system-wide platform, this particular healthcare network relies heavily on its affiliate network of independent providers to care for its patient population – which means standardizing on a single EMR is not an option.

Transition of care requirements necessitate that after a patient is discharged from an in-patient hospital setting the patient is contacted within 48 hours. The hospital network’s existing platform could generate discharge documentation, but it was not always available to receiving offices – which might be employed, or might be independent affiliates – within the 48-hour timeframe.