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Human Interaction: Key Ingredient to EHRs Success

“I believe the key to this program’s success was simple human interaction.”

This sentence near the end of a recent article in Group Practice Journal had a rather jarring effect on me. Tucked into a description of a program undertaken by Cornerstone Healthcare to drive fee-for-service revenue from value-based care, I realized these twelve words neatly sum up how to tap into the power of an EHR.

In 2011, Cornerstone achieved patient-centered medical home (PCMH) status from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).  But the North Carolina-based provider group pushed further to take advantage of the rich data it compiled to qualify for PCMH. They just needed to figure out how to tap into their EHR to proactively understand the care needs of its patient population.

Cornerstone’s initial program focused on high-risk diabetes patients identified by three criteria. They adopted Humedica Mindedshare population management software to analyze data stored in the Allscripts EHR to identify the right patients. They also created a new position called patient care advocate (PCA) to call targeted patients to check on their health status, provide education and schedule follow-up appointments if needed. The PCA noted the patients’ status in the EHR for the doctor to review.

The program proved so successful, after just six weeks Cornerstone hired two additional PCAs. The provider reports one-third of the calls made resulted in appointments with a 90% completion rate.

Cornerstone learned the personal touch approach is also profitable. In the six months studied from March to September 2011, each appointment kept resulted in $216 in revenue. More importantly, they believe the program kept many high-risk diabetes patients out of the hospital because they were motived to re-engage in preventative care.

In the article, Dr. John J. Walker writes “[v]irtually any physician practice with an EHR system and the right population management software can use the same approach to drive both quality and new revenue.”

A key ingredient in that recipe is also human interaction to push the positive outcomes achievable from the right technology even further.

Do you have any examples of how the human touch combined with an EHR propelled even greater patient outcomes? Share them here.

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