Dr. Barton Uses Health IT to Coordinate Care and Improve Health Care Quality
In 2001, Dr. Alan Barton settled in Fort Mohave, Arizona and opened a solo pediatric practice. From the very first day Colorado River Pediatrics opened, Dr. Barton has been committed to integrating Health IT and electronic health records (EHRs) into his practice. Colorado River Pediatrics has been paperless since opening day and continually looks for new ways to use Health IT to improve health care quality.
Patient Problem Lists and Care Coordination
Dr. Barton serves many patients with complex conditions, including cerebral palsy, spinal bifida, and autism. To help him track these patients, Dr. Barton uses patient problem lists in his EHR. The patient problem lists include several key pieces of information, such as Dr. Barton’s recommended next steps, specialist notes, dates of past specialist visits, and dates of upcoming specialist visits. All of this information helps Dr. Barton stay up to date on each of his patients’ action plans, and his EHR makes the patient problem lists easy to maintain and update.
Since Dr. Barton serves patients with complex conditions who often see several different pediatric subspecialists, care coordination is vital. When Dr. Barton refers one of his patients to a specialist for consultation or follow-up, he and his staff use their EHR to send the specialist a copy of the patient’s problem list so the specialist can understand the patient’s current situation and medical history. After the patient sees the specialist, Dr. Barton and his staff enter the specialist’s plan of action and test results into their EHR.
Improved Asthma Care with Electronic Health Records
In addition to using patient problem lists to improve care coordination for his patients with complex conditions, Dr. Barton is leveraging his EHR to improve asthma care in his practice. For example, Dr. Barton frequently uses his EHR to generate lists of his patients with asthma and other reactive airway problems. Dr. Barton hands the lists to his staff, and his staff provides patients with reminders to get flu shots, which is important because children with asthma are at increased risk of severe disease and complications from the flu. The proactive outreach is working. Since starting the patient reminders, Colorado River Pediatrics has significantly increased its immunization rates.
To further improve health care quality for their patients with asthma, Dr. Barton and his staff recently used their EHR to analyze trends among their patients with asthma. Based on a suspicion that children who were living near agricultural areas were more likely to have asthma, Dr. Barton and his staff used their EHR to generate a list of patients with asthma by ZIP code to investigate. Their suspicions were confirmed. Armed with this information, Dr. Barton is able to improve health care quality for his at-risk patients, using more frequent preventive care reminders and aggressive medication plans to ensure they can manage their asthma and stay healthy.
Dr. Barton and his practice have already attested to meaningful use Stage 1 and are looking forward to meaningful use Stage 2. As a team, Dr. Barton and his staff will continue to work together to improve health care quality for the children they serve. As Dr. Barton explains, “Everyone is involved in meaningful use!”