Retail clinics can share info

June 12, 2009

Providers would like access to patient data beyond their own EMRs from retail clinics.

Healthcare providers would like to receive information on their patients from retail clinics, particularly if it can be delivered electronically and securely, according to a recent survey.

NaviNet surveyed its provider base on retail clinics and patient information sharing, and survey responders indicated this information would have a positive effect on the quality of care that could be delivered to patients and that connecting with retail clinics and the clinical information they capture is important to overall patient care delivery and welfare.

“The results demonstrate the desire of providers to have a comprehensive record of their patients’ care-rather than being limited to being able to only access data in their office practice management system or EMR,” says Kendra Obrist, vice president of marketing at NaviNet. “Specifically, the survey inquired about what role urgent care and retail clinics-single-visit, non-health-plan affiliated medical clinics found in malls, retail stores or other convenient locations-can play in helping to manage clinical information for better patient care.”

The survey showed:

• 43% of respondents indicated they would be “very interested” in staying informed about patient care delivered outside their office;

• 89% said they believe the information from a retail clinic visit would help them deliver better care to their patients;

• 82.5% of respondents agree or strongly agree that it is important to stay connected with all the patient’s touch points in the care delivery system-retail clinics, hospitals, emergency rooms, outpatient facilities, etc.

“The healthcare landscape is changing rapidly, with patients seeking treatment outside the traditional means of care, such as through online visits, consultations between pharmacists and patients at large retailers, and urgent care clinics set up in pharmacies,” says Michael L. Hodgkins MD, MPH, chief medical officer at NaviNet.

“What most people may not realize is that patients who visit retail clinics are diverse, and many do have other caregivers and are insured,” Dr. Hodgkins says. “So the issue is that these new care settings generate additional patient information, but the data is not easily shared with a patient’s other caregivers, like PCPs or specialists.”

According to Dr. Hodgkins, the survey results point to a need for a new approach to clinical information exchange.

“Healthcare providers want holistic clinical information about patients,” he says. “The ability to securely collect, validate and share information across the continuum of care and across caregivers is important to providers. MCOs are in the unique position of being at the nexus of patient care delivery, with a wealth of information from all the providers from which a patient may receive care. This position can be leveraged to improve clinical information exchange nationwide.”

The industry is, for the most part, in agreement that technology has the ability to improve care, and there are many opinions on the new technologies and approaches that do/could work best, Dr. Hodgkins explains.

“However, if technology initiatives are to succeed, the solutions proposed must be affordable for providers and offer the ability for caregivers across the country to securely share information with one another,” he says. “In addition, the initiative must be built upon a sustainable business model, i.e., not solely dependent upon a one-time funding grant.”

Managed care executives should consider supporting and sponsoring technologies that will connect providers and help facilitate improved information exchange, such as provider communication Web portals and national health information networks, Dr. Hodgkins suggests.

“With comprehensive patient data on hand, providers can deliver higher-quality care and lower healthcare costs. Aetna and the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of health plans are examples of forwarding-thinking health plans in this regard,” Dr. Hodgkins says. “Both have invested in Web-based clinical messaging solutions that use sophisticated analytics behind the scenes to mine claims-based patient clinical information from all of a patient’s care encounters and push out care gap alerts and reports to providers, letting them know immediately what preventive and recommended healthcare services a patient may need, so they can act on that information.”