|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 7, 2010
HHC's Electronic Link to Private Community Physicians Directs Referrals to Public Hospitals, Improves Coordination of Care for Patients
New York, NY - The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) today announced that more than 2,500 private physicians have joined a computerized information exchange system that allows community-based providers and the public hospitals to care for the same patients and improve the coordination, quality and continuity of healthcare for New Yorkers.
The electronic link allows community physicians a convenient, efficient way to make a referral to a service they do not offer. The automated system replaced the use of cumbersome paper documents and accurately tracks every patient who is directed to HHC specialty services like radiology, gastroenterology, orthopedics, dermatology, and ear, nose, throat specialties. Private healthcare providers have made more than 168,000 referrals since the system was launched in May 2008 as part the HHC physician membership program called HHC Connectx. HHC invested $2.5 million to build the computer application and train community physicians and their staff.
"Community physicians treat many of the 1.3 million patients we serve. Yet a large number of these local physician practices are not aware of the extensive specialty services we have for all New Yorkers, or how easily they can refer their patients to those services," said HHC President Alan D. Aviles. "With HHC Connectx, we strengthen our partnership with community physicians, give them access to many of the benefits of our large organization, and at the same time build a more integrated healthcare delivery system for New Yorkers."
Private physicians who join HHC Connectx receive training and support at no cost to their practice. The physicians also have direct access to test results and consultation reports needed to direct patient care. Patients referred through the service can be directed to a specialty and diagnostic service appointment without the need to be re-evaluated by the hospital-based physician.
"HHC Connectx is the link between my office and Kings County Hospital Center," said Dr. Anatole Barkan, a physician at Be Well Primary Health Care Center, LLC, a community physician practice in central Brooklyn. "Our Provider Relations Specialist at Kings County really knows me, my staff and my patients. It makes us feel like we are part of a single medical team."
Prior to HHC Connectx, community physicians would direct patients to walk in to HHC hospitals and request the service needed. This was an inefficient way to secure the appropriate care patients needed and created a level of inconvenience to patients who had to be re-evaluated by the hospital based primary care physician before a referral to a specialty or diagnostic service could be processed. In addition, patients often did not bring the necessary information from their providers, including clinical history or reason why they were referred. Patients also had to obtain and pay for their hospital medical records in order to share it with their community-based physician.
"Before we launched HHC Connectx, community providers did not have a systematic means of requesting consultations for their patients and for receiving diagnostic test results from HHC specialists who could collaborate with and help inform the treatment of their patients," said Irene Kaufman, HHC Senior Assistant Vice President for Medical and Professional Affairs. "By creating a formal channel of communication between physicians we have established an accountable, standard and very efficient process for coordinating care for our shared patients. In fact, the number of walk-ins are down to 19% from 39% last year. We have reduced the time it takes to fully process a referral from 3.5 days to 1.3 days. And can turn around a consultation visit report to the referring doctor within two days after the patient visit."
The HHC Connectx program offers member physicians and their staff efficient and coordinated access to HHC facilities. Membership benefits include:
- A convenient and easy-to-use web-based tool for referral management and patient tracking
- 24/7 online access to diagnostic test results and consultation reports
- Direct access to HHC's extensive specialty care centers and Centers of Excellence, like the Queens Hospital Cancer Center, Jacobi Hospital Burn Center, Harlem Hospital Stroke Center and Kings County Hospital Parkinson's Disease Center
- A single contact to help navigate and simplify the patient's experience at HHC hospitals
- Medical education opportunities, including presentations by leading clinicians on the latest medical advances and best practices
- Notifications when patients miss an appointment with HHC specialists
The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated healthcare delivery system with its own 385,000 member health plan, MetroPlus, and is the largest municipal healthcare organization in the country. HHC serves 1.3 million New Yorkers every year and more than 450,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commission's John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hhc.
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