Dr. Heslin Uses Health IT to Improve Diabetes Care
Dr. Eugene Heslin is head physician at Bridge Street Medical Group, a family practice with six physicians in Saugerties, New York. Dr. Heslin and his practice first tried to implement an electronic health record (EHR) in 2006, but Dr. Heslin quickly realized his practice was not yet ready for EHR implementation. “We did not understand the workflow changes necessary to go from paper to EHRs,” explained Dr. Heslin. After taking a few months to reflect on why the initial EHR implementation failed, Dr. Heslin and his practice decided to try again.
Workflow Redesign Helps Improve Staff Buy-In
The second time around Dr. Heslin focused on workflow redesign. He knew he had to retrain his staff and reengineer workflows to make sure his practice got “useful data” into their EHR. Working with New York eHealth Collaborative Regional Extension Center , Dr. Heslin and Bridge Street Medical Group designed and adopted new workflows, all intended to help the practice collect meaningful patient data during each and every patient visit.
As Bridge Street Medical Group began to collect useful data in their EHR, the practice began to function more effectively, and Dr. Heslin’s staff started to see the benefits of EHRs. “Useful data is what gets physicians and clinical staff to buy in to EHRs. The willingness of my staff to participate was critical to our success,” said Dr. Heslin.
Improved Health Care Quality for Patients with Diabetes
Now that Dr. Heslin and his practice have implemented an EHR, they are using their EHR to improve health care quality for their patients with diabetes. Bridge Street Medical Group redesigned their nursing workflows to integrate microprotein testing – testing that helps physicians discover signs of kidney failure – into their annual diabetes check-ups. Before Dr. Heslin and his practice implemented an EHR, they tested less than 50% of their patients with diabetes for signs of kidney failure. Dr. Heslin and his practice now collect annual microprotein data for 100% of their patients with diabetes.
Dr. Heslin explains, “With microprotein data for all of our patients with diabetes, we are able to make better decisions as to whether to prescribe medications or recommend other measures to control blood sugar levels.” Bridge Street Medical Group is also using the new data to initiate conversations with its patients with diabetes, making the effort to involve patients in their own health and health care.
Dr. Heslin already successfully attested to meaningful use Stage 1, and he and his practice are already looking forward to meaningful use Stage 2 as another “pathway to improve health care quality.” Bridge Street Medical Group has also been recognized as a National Committee for Quality Assurance Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Home and is participating in the Comprehensive Primary Care initiative.