Make it easy for physicians
Beacon Health has also collaborated with physicians in its approach to improving care for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), says Will Seavey, PharmD, BCPS, director of pharmacy and care delivery. Called a COPD exacerbation kit, it uses an order set in its EHR that provides a nurse with standard guidelines for assessing a patient’s COPD. Depending on the result of the nurse’s assessment, a patient may receive an antibiotic and/or steroids for treatment. A patient’s physician must approve in advance that a nurse can do the assessment, which is noted in the EHR.
Before this protocol was put in place, physicians performed all assessments, which ate up their time and made it difficult to get patients in for same-day appointments, says Seavey. And even when the practice could accommodate same-day appointments, squeezing in patients through the day completely threw off the physician’s schedule.
The biggest impact? Access to same-day appointments means fewer expensive emergency room visits, says Seavey. (While he was unable to provide specific metrics, a health system spokesperson says that the hospitals and primary care clinics that use the COPD exacerbation kit most often have lower admission rates for COPD than the health system’s average.)
Seavey says that in order for the COPD assessment to be successful, physicians need to develop trusting relationships with nurses on the team. But getting physicians onboard with the new tool “wasn’t a big stretch,” says Seavey, particularly because it would help save them time. “Clinical providers want to do the right thing. They want to do the best by their patients. It’s not hard to get the message through,” says Seavey.