Last month we announced the release of Elation Provider Network (EPN), a completely new way for providers to connect and share patient information with one another. The service is ambitious, but its goal is simple: to power smart and effortless collaboration between providers and make it easier for them to care for patients. Why did we create EPN, and what problems does it solve? To best answer those questions, we’ll take a closer look at physicians’ pain points, how they impact the patient, and how they can be eliminated through well-built technology.
Primary care physicians face a nearly impossible task: coordinating care with 229 physicians in 117 practices. This would be daunting even if these physicians have great tools to help do their job as quickly and efficiently as possible. But they don’t have these tools. Too often, these physicians rely on their memory, Excel spreadsheets or Word documents that are updated annually, or even more infrequently, to maintain their colleagues’ contact information.
What makes communication more daunting from our users’ experience is the fact that 50 to 60 percent of provider contact information available in the National Provider Identifier (NPI) directory is incorrect or missing the practice’s fax number. Additionally, 14 percent of our users’ faxes fail because the fax line of the provider they’re trying to reach is busy or temporarily offline.
Why is this important? Surprisingly, faxes are still the primary method physicians use to communicate with one another. Time spent re-sending faxes because the fax transmission failed or calling a practice to confirm that they have the right fax number is time taken away from clinical care and patients. When faced with this trade-off, physicians and their staff in busy practices err on the side of spending time with their patients. They assume that the fax was received by the intended party, sometimes they re-send faxes when they are notified or reminded, and for the most part, they refer patients to the same group of consultants.
And how does this affect us, the patients? Ever wonder why the consultant to whom your primary care doctor just referred you doesn’t have your basic medical history, and you have to fill out that same form over again? Or why you have to take yet again another lab test when you just did one the same week? Or why your primary care doctor doesn’t know the results or findings from the consultant?
What you don’t see is the provider trying and failing to get your patient information before your appointment, not because she’s inept, but because she never received a fax with important notes about your care from your primary care physician, and vice versa.
Our physicians are no strangers to these issues, and have shared their stories of failed faxes and EHR-induced pain points time and again. We recognized the prevalence of these problems, and the need for a solution that allowed for quick, easy and accurate sharing of information between providers. We developed the EPN to address these issues and deliver the following three key benefits:
1. Provider contact information is up to date and available automatically.
We’re working hard to verify all provider contact information is correct — on our users’ behalf. We also automatically identify all the providers who have cared for a patient based on clinical interactions, showing Elation providers the number of patients they have in common without them having to do a thing.
2. In just 3 clicks, Elation providers can send any set of clinical documents – reports, scanned documents, progress notes – in a patient’s chart to any provider in the country.
It’s easier for a physician to choose and send all the relevant clinical documents along with a referral than it is to instruct staff on which documents to send to the consultant. The added benefit is that the physician is still in her clinical train of thought to ensure the pertinent information is shared. And if a fax fails or is not received, it just takes one click to re-send the entire referral.
3. Guaranteed delivery of clinical documents — even if the recipient is not an Elation user.
For Elation Health users, clinical documents are automatically filed into the appropriate patient chart, and lab results are available for trending. The sender will receive a delivery receipt automatically once the letter has been opened by the recipient. If your recipient is not an Elation user, no worries. We will still guarantee delivery of clinical documents by making the clinical documents available for download through the Elation Passport service. This complimentary service is available to any collaborator of an Elation Health user and works seamlessly with fax.
Clinical information needs to be available to any provider caring for a patient. Providers need a tool they can trust to help them communicate and share information with everyone involved in their patients’ care. We’ve built that tool with EPN, and it’s another way we empower physicians through technology that helps them do what they do best: provide exemplary patient care.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Elation’s Clinical First EHR works in a clinical setting, check out our “During the Visit” page to see how physicians can access and record information while keeping their focus on the patient.