Dr. Pinho Searches for and Finds the Right EHR System
Dr. Paulo Pinho, board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics, leads a team of three primary care providers at P.A.S.E. Healthcare in Millburn, New Jersey. In addition to serving patients of all ages – from infants to the elderly – Dr. Pinho serves Portuguese and Spanish families who otherwise face health care language barriers.
Choosing the Right EHR System: An Opportunity for Growth
Before P.A.S.E. Healthcare, Dr. Pinho saw the “disadvantages of paper-based medical records.” Dr. Pinho believed EHRs could help him improve health care quality. When he established P.A.S.E. Healthcare in 2006 he adopted a basic EHR system. At first, the system met Dr. Pinho’s needs – it provided the practice with basic word processing and database functions. But Dr. Pinho quickly realized that the basic EHR system could not perform all the tasks he wanted. The basic system, for example, could not easily identify and track patients who needed preventive screening.
Dr. Pinho, motivated to improve health care quality, upgraded to a different EHR system. The new EHR system allowed him to efficiently monitor health measures such as hemoglobin A1c and LDL cholesterol levels and identify patients in need of additional screening or follow-up care. Although the second system was an improvement, it had “limited interface options, frequent system glitches, and inadequate customer support,” explained Dr. Pinho. Dr. Pinho, once again, was left searching for new options.
Third Time’s a Charm: The Effective EHR System
Dr. Pinho decided to adopt a third EHR platform. This time, he found an EHR system that was “intuitive, easy to navigate, and had all the features [he] wanted.” The new EHR system brought multiple improvements to Dr. Pinho’s practice.
Dr. Pinho uses his EHR system to incorporate all patient data into patient worksheets that he and his colleagues use during each patient visit. Each worksheet:
- Provides information about each patient’s health metrics, such as vital signs and results of recent diagnostic tests
- Calculates each patient’s risk for disease, which helps Dr. Pinho initiate conversations about next steps
- Visually displays patient health trends, such as changes in A1c levels following medication adjustments
These worksheets help Dr. Pinho and his colleagues keep track of their patients’ information, coordinate care, and improve health care quality.
Dr. Pinho’s EHR system also facilitates communication to help improve health care quality. The EHR system:
- Sends patients reminders about upcoming appointments, clinical screenings, and available vaccines and delivers automated phone calls to high-risk patients
- Reminds providers about follow-up care, which helps Dr. Pinho and his colleagues coordinate care with specialists
As a result of the new EHR system, Dr. Pinho has significantly improved health care quality in his practice. Patient reminders, for example, have not only helped P.A.S.E. Healthcare meet meaningful use, they have also helped P.A.S.E. Healthcare improve its colon cancer screening rate by over 80% and its breast cancer screening rate by over 35%.
At the end of the day, Dr. Pinho’s EHR system helps him fulfill his ultimate goal: to better serve those families that so greatly rely on his care. To continue to improve P.A.S.E. Healthcare, Dr. Pinho and his colleagues are beginning to participate in an Accountable Care Organization and plan to continue leveraging their EHR system and meaningful use to discover new ways to improve health care quality.