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Providing quality care to patients requires collaboration with specialists from different teams within a healthcare facility, and oftentimes with third-party healthcare providers across the country. Many of those organizations use different EHR systems which makes quick and efficient communication and collaboration a major challenge. While it is possible to communicate on the telephone and send information via email and fax, those communication channels are far from efficient.
The Virginia cancer care center, Centra Health, grew frustrated with communications problems and sought a solution that could be used to document and share information about the stage of lung cancer patients’ tumors with the entire care team.
Centra Health considered several secure communication platforms before opting to implement QliqSOFT’s communications solution. The platform proved to be a huge success, speeding up communication and allowing the entire care team to collaborate efficiently, eliminating phone tag and frustrating communication delays.
Once the communication benefits for lung cancer patients were seen, Centra Health decided to roll out the platform for all cancer patients. “I know it sounds grandiose, but this simple app has allowed us to revolutionize what we are doing,” said John Salmon, MD, a pathologist at Centra Health.
Centra Health has now fully implemented the QliqSOFT communications platform and all new cancer patients are now given a CareChannel in the QliqSOFT platform. CareChannels link all members of a patient’s care team together and creates a conversation around each specific patient, irrespective of where those care team members are located.
When a patient receives a cancer diagnosis, the cancer care coordinator opens up a CareChannel and adds all of the appropriate providers to the group. All information relating to the patient can be shared with all members of the care team quickly and efficiently.
“This has given us the ability to begin taking care of the patient – making appointments, assigning a navigator, coordinating needed testing – often before the patient knows they have cancer,” said Salmon. “It has forced us to completely redesign our system, but has also given us the ability to create effective pathways for all patients, regardless of their diagnosis.”
The CareChannels app can be accessed on mobile devices and desktop computers, ensuring information about a patient is always close at hand. All communications are protected with end-to-end encryption, access controls are in place, and an audit trail is maintained to ensure compliance with HIPAA Rules.
Interestingly, while the QliqSOFT platform integrates seamlessly with EMR systems, Centra Health chose to keep the platform separate and has not integrated it with any other systems.
“Because we don’t have CareChannels connected to any EHR, it is able to provide visibility beyond the boundaries of those systems,” said Salmon. “I have doctors who are part of their own ACO seamlessly communicating about patient care with doctors of other financially competitive ACOs. This is what patients want, and this is what we need to be doing as providers.”
Salmon explained that before it was clear that there was a problem with communication because staff were complaining about the need to communicate better. Now that the new system has been implemented the complaints have stopped. When communication is working well, it is hardly noticed. It is only when there is a problem that people become aware of it.