Theresa Owens is the Data Analyst for Caring Hands, a federally qualified health care center in McAlester that is part of the MyHealth network. She says the Care Coordinators at Caring Hands use the MyHealth portal as part of a strategy to help their patients reduce visits to emergency rooms and improve their care.
Every morning, the Caring Hands staff gets a report from MyHealth that lets them know if any of their patients have recently visited an emergency room or been hospitalized. At that point, Caring Hands can follow-up to find out why the hospitalization occurred and if there are ongoing health needs. It also gives the staff an opportunity to inform patients that their health care needs can be addressed at the Caring Hands clinic instead of an ER.
“MyHealth helps us reach out to these patients and put a plan in place the next time they have a health issue,” said Owens. “We can coach them to understand that, if they are having trouble, they can call our nurse hotline or be seen by a clinic doctor quickly and easily.”
It also gives the Caring Hands staff an opportunity to enforce continuity of care as a patient transitions out of a hospital and back into a home or nursing facility.
Owens cites the example of her grandfather, who left a hospital with new medication but was still on previously prescribed meds. “He’s wondering, does he take the new ones, or the old ones, or both? At Caring Hands, we ask our patients to come in with all their medications so we can see what they have been prescribed and make sure they are clear on what they should and should not be taking.”
Internally, MyHealth also helps Caring Hands comply with the Uniform Data System reporting requirements, which ultimately helps protect their funding and their status as an FQHC.
Ultimately, all of this is part of a shift in how medicine is practiced and the culture surrounding medical care.
“We are moving towards a system where medical care is centralized in one place. Even if there are multiple providers or doctors, all of them will be able to query a patient’s medical history and have the same information. MyHealth has enhanced our quality programs and will ultimately improve quality of care, reduce readmissions, improve patient’s outcome and document measurable savings to the patients and payers.”