Patients First puts EHR to work on diabetes care

Missouri healthcare system improves care, boosts revenue

WASHINGTON, MO. – The point of the government’s meaningful use program is to transform healthcare. Usually that transformation is incremental – improvements here, improvements there that together can lead to giant strides.

That seems to be the case for Patients First Health Care, a Washington, Mo.-based system that serves more than 215,000 patients through 21 locations in east central Missouri.

Patients First rolled out its NextGen electronic health record system five years ago. Today, all but a few of its 57 primary care physicians have attested to meaningful use of EHRs and Patients First is holding up its diabetes program as one of those giant steps toward big change.

The EHR has become central to building a comprehensive care program for diabetic patients that has resulted in better control over the disease and better outcomes for patients, says Pam Pavely, RN, director of health information technology for Patients First Health Care. There have been some financial benefits as well, she adds.

One of the most critical features of the NextGen EHR Pavely says, is that users can change the templates.

“So we updated the NextGen template to be able to automatically pull in their last hemoglobin a1c, Pavely says. “We document the last foot exam, the last eye exam – those types of things. So that information is right there in front of the provider during the visit, and they can make any adjustments necessary.

It made the billing process a lot easier and cleaner, too, she adds. “We weren’t submitting for things we shouldn’t be submitting for and we were only submitting charges when it was appropriate. So that also improved the reimbursement as well.”

Patients First also gave the local optometrist remote access to the patient’s record in a way that is secure and HIPAA compliant.