Using EHR as a Foundation for Enhanced Care

Author Archives: Monique Dever

About Monique Dever

Monique integrates research and networking with her passion for health and well-being to provide important, up-to-date news, resources and current events to the public health communities. She is the Marketing Executive for Patagonia Health, an Electronic Health Records (EHR) software company focused on the public health sector.

Using EHR as a Foundation for Enhanced Care

Electronic Health Record platforms have evolved over the years. Recently, many EHR systems have incorporated new software that allows patients to register for vaccinations, send text messages and appointment reminders.  It’s true that technology has evolved in a great manner over the last 5 to 10 years with EHRs. EHRs also allow medical teams the opportunity to simplify clinical documentation, eliminate operational burden and reduce operational cost.  Which, inevitably, is the foundation for enhanced care. 

When onboarding an EHR system, there has historically been a learning curve for adopters. Some challenges may occur and the software may be difficult to understand and to navigate. EHR providers may have to train one team how to use the software when setting up the system in clinics. While this training is beneficial, it often didn’t take into consideration existing systems like already involved software at the clinic according to healthcare workers. Juggling records between two systems made many practitioners dread the use of EHRs. Along with clinics, many patients struggled to understand the autonomization of their records and information was difficult to impart from clinic to patient. 

Another benefit of using an EHR is the access of information provided to patients. By allowing patients to quickly access their records, clinics provide patients a sense of trust with open communication. The quality of a clinician’s communication speaks volumes about their practice. EHRs also put information in the hands of the patients. For example, by texting patients and allowing them to register for upcoming appointments, empowers patients. The accessibility of information about health conditions minimize consultation and waiting room times while also allowing clients to pull up the information sent to them for exploration. 

Along with providing seamless user experience for patients, with EHR systems healthcare workers don’t have to juggle between systems to reach their client’s information. They can access all correspondence and data on a patient through one hub, making information retrieval easy. With the collaboration and integration of new technology, a comprehensive EHR, such as Patagonia Health’s EHR, allows healthcare providers the ability to care and treat their patients. 

Patagonia Health Offers Interface to Public Health Information Network (PHIN)

Patagonia Health has added an interface with the Public Health Information Network (PHIN) using the MINT Platform IHE. The PHIN is a national initiative to advance interoperable

information systems for public health organizations. The interface option that has been added to the Patagonia Health EHR allows system users to lookup patients in PHIN to create and update patient details and health records using records from other participating organizations. It also posts patient details and health records automatically to PHIN access by other authorized public health organizations.

If the patient is not already in the agency’s EHR system, users can “Query PHIN” from the search list, enter what is known about the patient, and click “Get Patients” to query PHIN.  If the patient is found in PHIN, they can simply click “Copy Patient to EHR” and pull the data into the new patient record.

Whenever the patient details are updated in the EHR, the system saves relevant changes automatically and patient details will be sent to the PHIN using MINT IHE. Likewise, when a Patient’s Encounter note is signed, a CCDA document for the patient will be generated and sent to the PHIN.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers tools and resources to “help increase the capacity of public health agencies to electronically exchange health data and information.”

This interface is an add-on capability to the Patagonia Health EHR.  If you would like information about how to add this feature, please contact sales@patagoniahealth.com.

For more details about PHIN visit the CDC PHIN web page. 

The Threat to Mental Health during COVID-19 & How Practitioners Can Help

The COVID-19 pandemic has been full of challenges both mentally and physically for most Americans. Many have lost jobs, got laid off, lived in isolation, and existed in fear of contracting the COVID-19 virus for months on end. On top of that, the current number of virus cases is sobering and can be overwhelming to contemplate. It is no wonder that many modern world health experts are declaring many nations including the USA to be in a mental health crisis. The toll of COVID-19 has had physical, emotional, and financial effects on American families. Experts have found that if not addressed properly, mental health can sustain more damage and lasting effects than the three latter combined. So, what is the common threat causing this compromise in mental health?

According to an article by the World Health Organization, the stress caused by uncertainty during COVID-19 has been, and is currently, the most common threat to the American mental health. No matter how direct or indirect the exposure, the stress of the virus has been found to take a practically even toll on Americans’ mental health across the board. Living in anxiety at the possibility of contracting the illness keeps the body producing the “fight or flight” hormone (otherwise known as cortisol) consistently. This stress can be triggered by multiple factors including self-isolation, economic uncertainty, lack of safety, and absence of social interaction to name a few. Dr. Petsantis of the World Health Organization claims his patients have also seen a higher propensity for psychosomatic behavior due to the pandemic. 

Mental health is a crucial component to overall wellness for the body, mind, and soul. While financial and physical wellness may be on the forefront of your priorities, remember to check up on how you and your loved ones are handling stress during this time period. 

Health practitioners are currently working to find solutions to the mental health stresses in the USA. However, practitioners have found the solutions to many stresses lie in the power of the individual. Health care workers are learning to equip people with the proper tools and advice to address their personal mental health dilemmas head on. After realizing the significance of mental health fallout in 2020, the CDC released a series of recommendations for keeping mental health in order.

Here are 3 things health practitioners recommend to do in order to ease stress during the pandemic.

  1. Take frequent breaks
  2. Take care of your body
  3. Take time to connect with others

Take frequent breaks. Although it feels necessary to keep up with the latest news and updates about the virus, it can be exhausting to constantly seek information about a situation that is beyond your control. Try to take breaks from the news and engage in an activity that you enjoy or one that gives you inner peace.

Take care of your body. In order to set your mind at ease, make sure you are doing everything in your power to care for your body and build defenses against stress and sickness. The CDC recommends regulating your breathing during restful breaks, eating well, exercising often, and getting deep sleep. These lifestyle habits will relieve your anxieties and help you and your household feel a bit more in control during your daily routine.

Take time to connect with others. It can be easy to feel completely alone and isolated during a worldwide pandemic. It is difficult to be away from those you love in the effort to maintain social distance. However, make sure to talk with your family and community frequently. If you aren’t comfortable meeting socially distanced in person, set aside times to meet virtually using platforms like Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom. 

What are some ways you are dealing with stress during the pandemic? Let us know in the comments below.

Public Health Workers, We’re Here for You.We know county local health department staff are on the front lines of finding answers about COVID-19. As an Electronic Health Record provider focused on public and behavioral health, we understand the importance of your work. Thank you, healthcare heroes! If there is any way that we can be a resource to you during this time, please reach out to us today.

Patagonia Health: Adapt & Innovate, At Speed

Adapting to COVID 19 EHR

“As a company, and as a country, we are vaccinating millions of people quickly. It is fascinating to see how people nationwide are contributing to fight COVID-19 to get us back to normal. There is no playbook thus, as a nation, it is all hands on deck,” Ashok Mathur, Founder & CEO, Patagonia Health.

COVID-19 has taken a toll on countless industries, and health care providers have not been spared from the impact. Communities and medical centers nationwide have had to adapt and innovate efficiently to remain competitive. This past year has shown us the importance of being agile, not only in life, but also in work. In order to properly treat America, manufacturers of the COVID-19 virus are learning to use their resources best by innovating the vaccine process; manufacturing at larger scales, delivering shipments more efficiently, and working through clinics to reach communities. 

Vaccine Innovation, posthaste: Due to the novel nature of the virus, the necessity to produce a quality vaccine quickly could not be deterred. To get our communities back to normal, we needed a vaccine, fast. Many pharmaceutical companies stepped up their manufacturing; they received funding and government relief to produce the vaccine at record times using the same safeguards and checking processes required of other vaccines. Although skepticism is understandable, we can rest in the fact that all proper safety measures are being taken in the development of the vaccines. 

Manufacturing, at scale: Getting the vaccines approved was only half the battle; now the challenges moved to the manufacturing process. Companies are overcoming numerous bottlenecks to manufacture at massive volumes. There is no playbook for such massive production at the scale necessary. Currently, international drug manufacturing companies are teaming up with US manufacturers to ease the production of the vaccine. In addition to the struggle of producing billions of doses, corporations are endeavoring to find new staff for assembly lines. Due to the increased demand for assembly lines to produce larger masses, manufacturers are needing greater amounts of assembly workers educated on the assembly of medical resources. Another major obstacle for vaccine distribution is the weather. With production at an all time high in the winter months; ice, snow, and polar storms are major problems when moving supplies through the north and the Midwest. With mass amounts of doses, comes quite a few large obstacles; however, with monetary allocations from the CDC, healthcare companies are actively finding solutions.

Vaccines Delivery, in droves: As vaccines are being manufactured at record levels, challenges with delivery and predictability emerge. When distribution started in late December 2020, FedEx was one of the first companies to aid in shipping. Being the world’s largest express transportation service, it is only natural for FedEx to step into this role. FedEx is delivering shipments of vaccines as well as committing $4 million in the effort to reach under-served communities in these nations. In addition to FedEx, the US National Guard is stepping up their game in the coronavirus relief effort. The National Guard is aiding the delivery of vaccines using their resources to transport shipments to healthcare workers and state personnel. Due to the contribution of transportation services, the delivery is being expedited and can be efficiently dispersed throughout the nation.

Vaccination by clinics, en masse: Our county health departments and other healthcare agencies are dealing with a myriad of challenges to scale up vaccinations. Staff is being reallocated and seasonal employees are being hired to meet the demand for contact tracing and vaccination at clinics. There is no playbook, and it is all hands on deck. With the need for medical staff at an all time high in 2020, facilities are moving towards telehealth services including use of electronic health records and coronavirus screening software. Automated medical help eliminates the need for essential health care workers and allows patients to organize their medical data and learn to diagnose their symptoms and contact using screening software. With software acting as the primary initial contact for those needing care, health care workers can further analyze requests and determine who is the most jeopardized and who needs immediate care. Medical professionals are also utilizing technology to communicate with patients who have the resources to connect for virtual appointments. This allows time and effort to be allocated properly to those who do not have the capability to connect and communicate with doctors online. Clinics are using software to its full capacity to schedule and treat patients with the vaccine through drive-in testing and administration.

Patagonia Health Responsiveness, at speed: To fight the pandemic, Patagonia Health’s R&D team innovated and collaborated with its customers to develop many resources to aid in the response to COVID-19, including an all new Mass Vaccination App, in a record time. Against the clock, we methodically designed, tested every scenario and rolled out this new feature in phases. While we too experienced the COVID-19 challenges, our rapid deployment enables us to meet the needs of our customers and their ever-changing workflows/needs. There is no playbook. “We have very smart people and it is great to see our staff jumping in, adapting and innovating”said Ashok Mathur, CEO, Patagonia Health. It’s all hands on deck. Adapting and Innovating continue.  “We can not rest until we do our part to fight this public health pandemic. Public Health agencies (and their communities) need us and we have been ready.  I am glad that we have an opportunity to serve” stated Mathur. 

CDC Beefs up on COVID-19 Reimbursement

cdc covid reimbursement ehr

The CDC and NCHS are making great strides to fund the relief effort of COVID-19. With vaccine distribution at an all time high, clinics across America are searching for ways to provide care to communities through doses, screenings, and hospital care.

With the ongoing pandemic, clinicians across the United States are in need of assistance to continue to provide care to communities. With resources stretched thin, medical practitioners require reimbursement if they are to continue aiding the public. Thankfully, in early February 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) teamed together to announce their plans for relief funding for health care clinics across the United States. Starting with a new release of ICD codes and requirements for reimbursement, the CDC is making rapid steps towards aiding the relief effort in Spring 2021.

Throughout 2020, the CDC has released ICD codes for monitoring the novel coronavirus as it spreads throughout the United States. These codes detail how hospitals, private practitioners, and the public can safely protect against the virus and handle the development of the pandemic. January 1, 2021 saw a new release of these ICD regulations. The CDC and the NCHS have implemented new codes for the classification COVID-19, screening techniques, indirect and direct contact, history with the virus, and effects of the virus on pneumonia, connective tissues, and multisystem inflammatory syndrome. The new codes and classification of the virus help healthcare centers to properly treat and diagnose COVID-19 cases as they come.

With updates on the codes to be published in the near future, many healthcare providers and hospitals are anticipating how this development will affect them. A crucial resource for practitioners has been the CDC guidelines. These guidelines have proved useful in delineating treatment, screening, and disbursement in 2020 and 2019. Treating a great volume of COVID-19 patients has been a great burden for healthcare providers across the nation. In addition to treatment, clinics now face the monumental task of vaccine distribution in the following months. 

The CDC and NCHS are making great strides to fund the relief effort of the virus, as the vaccine is being progressively administered across the country.  Having an electronic health record solution that encompasses all the current codes, COVID-19 screening, and mass vaccination functionality can amplify the success of the response to the virus for treatment and vaccinations.