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Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester NY. If one of a doctor's patients is admitted, he'll get an alert. Photo: <a href="">Aaron Giambattista</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester NY. If one of a doctor's patients is admitted, he'll get an alert. Photo: Aaron Giambattista, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Putting doctors in the loop when there's an emergency

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Many health care providers don't know when their patients are admitted or discharged from hospital, or seen by an ambulance crew. That makes it harder to deliver comprehensive care.

The Rochester Regional Health Information Organization has set up a simple alert system that's aimed at changing that.

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Reported by

Kate O'Connell
Reporter, The Innovation Trail

The network’s able to send a message to a secure server letting doctors know whenever one of their patients is admitted, seen or discharged by a hospital or EMS, and why.

Nurse Mary Costantino has been using the RHIO alerts system for a little over a month.

She says, like all new systems, there are some bugs that need to be worked out. But, the alerts allow her to close the information gaps in patient care,“Knowing where your patients are in the health system is always helpful. Could it be overwhelming, it may be. But I think you weed out what it is that you want. It gives me a heads up that something is going on with the patient.”

Executive director Ted Kremer says it’s almost assumed that physicians have access to this kind of information, but until recently there wasn’t an easy or secure way to make that happen.

“Finally a physician will get to see what a patient is doing in trying to take care of themselves outside of that physician visit,” he said.” So in fact if they are going to the ED a lot, a physician could call back and say, well ‘something’s going on, we really need to look at what’s happening with your care. Every Thursday night you end up in the ED, this is indicative of something else.”

Kremer says the service is particularly useful for nursing homes and home health services that coordinate follow up care for patients after they’ve been discharged.

He says the challenge will be incorporating all the new information into the workflow of health practices.

The alerts system’s currently only being used in Rochester, but Kremer says there are plans to connect all upstate hospitals and physicians with the service.

It’s only available to doctors who have patient consent.

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