Ellenville Regional Hospital and the Institute for Family Health Announce Electronic Health Records Communication Link

Ellenville, New York (February 2, 2011) —  The Ellenville Regional Hospital and the Institute for Family Health have implemented EpicCare Link, a secure program that permits the two organizations to share critical medical information for mutual patients. This new collaboration means that Emergency Department staff can access patients’ medical records from the Ellenville Family Health Center, operated by the Institute, providing primary care providers and hospital staff with tools to enhance the quality and safety of care.

According to Robert Donaldson, NP, the medical director for the Emergency Department and the president of the medical staff at Ellenville Regional, “EpicCare Link helps the ED diagnose and treat patients more efficiently, helping to avoid duplicate testing and undesirable medication interactions. It even lets us schedule appointments for patients prior to their discharge.”

Steve Kelley, president and CEO of Ellenville Regional Hospital indicated that the collaboration between Ellenville Regional Hospital and the Institute is the first implementation of EpicCare Link between a rural critical access hospital and a primary care organization in the country. He is thrilled that this innovative milestone is occurring in Ellenville. “This is the kind of setting that health information technology, and health information exchange, is designed to serve. It is critical to the field of emergency medicine, where access to a patient’s medical history can mean the difference between life and death.”

Mr. Kelley shared some examples of recent uses of the EpicCare Link.  Shortly after the system was implemented, he said, a patient presented in the Emergency Department with confusion and chest pain. “The nurse on duty was relieved to learn that he was a patient of the Institute’s. Within seconds, she was able to access the patient’s most recent EKG, blood work, medication list and medical history through EpicCare Link. The ED provider was able to compare the EKG performed in the ED with his previous one, and to determine the best course of treatment.  EpicCare Link helped us give the patient the best possible care.”

In another recent example, a 30 year-old woman was brought into the ED via ambulance confused and lethargic. Finding her blood sugar level to be critically low, the EMS crew administered life-saving glucose intravenously. Though she could only provide her name and date of birth, the ED staff was able to view her records at the Institute and determine that she was insulin- dependent. After being treated and stabilized, she was scheduled for a follow-up appointment with her primary doctor at the Family Health Center for early the next morning.

“From the start, the promise of electronic health records was about allowing patients’ medical information to be available to all health providers treating the patient on a timely basis in order to provide better, safer, and more efficient healthcare to consumers,” added Neil Calman, MD, president and CEO of the Institute for Family Health. “Unfortunately, due to both technical and bureaucratic issues, access to a patient’s primary care medical information has not, until now, been available to a provider treating a patient in crisis.”

The Institute for Family Health uses Epic’s electronic health record and practice management system in all of its facilities, including the Ellenville Family Health Center, located on the campus of Ellenville Regional Hospital.  Through EpicCare Link, the Emergency Department staff can view the patient’s medical record, including current medication list, significant medical history, and recent diagnostic and laboratory results. All federal regulations regarding the release of personal health information are observed in the exchange of information.

 The Ellenville Regional Hospital is a 25 bed rural critical access hospital located in Southern Ulster County. The Hospital offers a wide range of services including inpatient services, rehabilitation, emergency care, physical therapy, orthopedics, gastroenterology, cardiology,  cardio-stress testing, pulmonary, pain management, ambulatory surgery, laboratory, diabetes education, oncology, clinical pharmacy services, medical nutrition therapy, hospice care, women’s health including bone density, mammography, ultrasound, urogynecology and imaging, including CT scan, digital X-Ray, nuclear medicine, and in the very near future, MRI studies. The hospital has won numerous quality awards including  four Patient Safety and Clinical Pharmacy Services Collaborative awards, one of each that was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) in 2009, and a 2010 Quality and Patient Safety Award from the Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association (NorMet) Patient Safety Institute for reducing the average length of stay in the Emergency Department to less than 100 minutes.

The Institute for Family Health is a federally qualified health center network with 24 practice sites in New York State, including the Ellenville Family Health Center, which offers primary care, dental care and mental health care for children and adults.  The Institute also operates two family medicine residency programs and several community health promotion programs. In 2007 the Institute was named a National Center of Excellence for the Elimination of Disparities by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2009 all Institute centers received the highest recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance as Patient Centered Medical Homes. Dr. Neil Calman, president and CEO, serves as a member of the Health Information Technology Policy Committee of the Office of the National Coordinator representing vulnerable populations. For more information, visit www.institute2000.org.