Care coordination for rural independent practices

Care coordination for rural independent practices

A physician’s ability to coordinate a patient’s care with other providers and healthcare facilities is becoming increasingly important. Those patients with chronic or complex conditions, in particular, benefit from a physician’s ability to coordinate their care with other providers. As the patient base ages, the number of chronically ill patients will increase.

Patients in rural areas often do not have access to the same level of coordinated care as urban patients receive. A recent paper published by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation points out that “rural areas often experience disparities in access to care, health status, and available infrastructure relative to their urban counterparts.”

One of the challenges with rural care is the shortage of physicians. Often the primary care provider serves an entire county and may not have the resources to hire administrative staff to handle the paperwork often involved in coordinating with other healthcare providers. Physicians in rural areas who take advantage of tools such as electronic health records (EHRs), however, do have access to the ability to share patient information with other providers, regardless of their location.

Specialty providers may not be located in the patient’s immediate rural area. In these cases, it is especially important for the primary care provider to have ready access to the patient’s medical records, visit notes, lab results, and other healthcare information. A significant amount of time and effort can be wasted waiting for information to be faxed or for phone calls to be returned.

Likewise, those specialty providers need access to the primary care provider’s visit notes and patient concerns to be able to properly treat the patient. Elation’s Collaborative Health Record (CHR) enables providers in rural areas to communicate and to view patient information in real time, even when they are separated by some distance from each other.

The CHR automatically share updates directly from the primary care provider’s Clinical EHR. Other providers get immediately notified so they can take action based on the most up-to-date clinical information. Care coordination is crucial for patients who are being treated by multiple providers. Those providers have the tools available to overcome the challenges facing rural independent practices.