Dr. Douglas Ashinsky is a board-certified physician who practices at Warren Internal Medicine, an affiliate of Somerset Medical Center in Warren, New Jersey. Dr. Ashinsky’s solo practice, which cares for approximately 3,000 patients, implemented an electronic health record (EHR) system in 2010.
Dr. Ashinsky faced significant challenges during the transition from paper records to EHRs. In the early months of the transition, Dr. Ashinsky and his staff had to adjust workflows to the new EHR system. At the same time, the staff had to determine what information to scan from old charts, establish standards for how to enter data correctly, and assign persons to fulfill new EHR-related tasks.
To overcome these challenges, Dr. Ashinsky instituted more training for staff members to increase their skills and confidence, and to prepare them to take on additional responsibilities.
As a result of this added staff capacity, Dr. Ashinsky was able to implement new processes to improve his patients’ health. Staff work with Dr. Ashinsky to generate lists of patients with chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, and then follow up with those who are due for screenings and laboratory tests. He has empowered his staff to address gaps in care, and to proactively provide patients with treatment guidelines and other educational materials to improve disease self-management and increase engagement.
In the past 3 years, the practice has witnessed tangible returns on its investment in EHR: the rate of on-time colonoscopy screenings has reached 80%, mammography rates have increased from 30% to 60%, and pap smear rates have increased from 20% to 60%.
“When an EHR system is correctly implemented and used, patient lists are easy to generate and are a useful tool to help improve patient care,” explained Dr. Ashinsky. “With the EHR system, I am better able to inform patients about trends in their personal data, and provide evidence-based medical care.”
By revealing gaps in care and facilitating communication with patients about recommended treatment, Dr. Ashinsky’s EHR system has played a vital role in improving health care quality and patient participation at Warren Internal Medicine. Dr. Ashinsky was one of the first physicians in New Jersey to attest to meaningful use, and his practice has obtained the highest level of patient-centered medical home certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.