GREENVILLE – Wayne HealthCare is working with other area agencies and providers of health and wellness in spearheading a program to help patients more easily navigate the path to serving their healthcare needs.
Cheryl Holmes RN, MSN, Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Coordinator for Wayne HealthCare is heading up the committee to help make the plan for a Community Care Coordination Program a reality.
“For a while the hospital’s hosted a bimonthly meeting called Partnership for Patients, where they have nursing homes and physician offices and providers like that where they come and try to coordinate things, issues, ” Holmes said. “And of course the government has been pushing in that direction to make healthcare better, smarter, more cost effective.”
The care coordination program is all about “making it efficient and navigating the system easier,” according to Jordan Francis, Wellness Director at Wayne HealthCare. “And hopefully have better outcomes,” Holmes added.
Over the years, healthcare has evolved into a multitude of specialized care areas, often making it confusing for patients who have to see a variety of healthcare providers to meet their needs.
“Our healthcare system is so complicated,” Holmes said. “It’s not just the one little doctor that did it all – surgeries, take care of your heart attack, take care of your babies.”
The problems with having multiple providers without adequate networking among them could include duplicate testing and services (unneccessary increased expense); duplicate or incompatible prescriptions, or overmedication; or conflicting instructions from various providers.
“I read the average time it takes is about four hours a week to coordinate (health information) and if you don’t know the system, it’s even harder,” Holmes said.
Part of the problem with an official program of coordination so far has been the incompatibility of recordkeeping systems.
“There are multiple systems out there, and there’s the issue of getting them to work together and talk to each other,” Holmes said. On the other hand, there could be privacy concerns if patient recordkeeping were all under a single system, raising the question of who should be allowed to access which parts of the records. There are also the possible security questions, as well as ownership questions.
“One of the solutions (to healthcare coordination) is having that electronic system that communicates, but it’s also one of the barriers,” Holmes said.
“There’s no healthcare cloud where all your data goes straight into that,” Francis added.
Early efforts at a coordination program have included creating a sort of healthcare file that the patient takes with them from provider to provider, and Holmes said quality of care, outcomes and cost were all improved even with that simple paper solution.
Among the challenges to overcome will be finding a way to coordinate care and recordkeeping among providers from various places.
“There are a lot of people here who have to go for care in Dayton, in Richmond, then you do have to build out (the network) farther and farther to keep that coordination tighter,” Holmes said. “I think eventually it’ll come where everyone will be more (coordinated) because I think it’ll be more of a government push. It’ll have to be in order to get that true complete coordination, because otherwise, I don’t know how.”
A pilot program is in the planning stages for a small number of patients this year to help figure out some options to eventually make navigating the healthcare system easier for everyone.