Kressly Pediatrics in Warrington, PA, employs four providers and five RNs, but there are two other essential members of the care team that don’t appear on the staff roster: the patient portal and the EHR.
Susan Kressly, MD, FAAP, who has served on several committees for the American Academy of Pediatrics, including its Task Force on Practice Transformation, says these technologies help practices move from a reactive to proactive mindset by providing “accessible and actionable data.” Providers can use these data to improve outcomes and experiences for children and their families.
Here are a few critical activities that can be facilitated by data.
Optimizing well-care visits. Technology makes it easy to quickly identify patients who are overdue for preventive care and contact them to make an appointment. Kressly recommends developing policies to take this step throughout the year, so the practice isn’t struggling to schedule patients for well-care as the busy winter season gets underway.
Bolstering improvement efforts. Running a problem list for the practice’s panel of patients can reveal important information about patient needs. For example, a practice with a high number of children who have asthma may want to conduct targeted training for staff. A practice with many expectant mothers may consider partnering with a lactation consultant.
Anticipating patient needs. Last-minute requests for medication refills when the patient hasn’t been examined in several months can lead to unhappy patients, stressed staff, and bottlenecks in patient flow. Regularly identifying and communicating with patients who have asthma, anxiety, and other chronic conditions can help stave off these situations and close care gaps.
Improving families’ access to health care. Expanding office hours, conducting telephone consultations, and exchanging school forms and other paperwork via the patient portal can help make care more accessible. But Kressly recommends against making assumptions about what families need. For instance, Kressly Pediatrics had originally planned to extend its evening hours. After checking with families, the practice discovered that early morning appointments when children are awake anyway was more effective than evening hours when children and parents may be irritable, tired, and hungry.
Kressly says that using these methods has added benefits for providers: it can help lighten their load, reduce staff burnout, and create a positive environment for patients. Everyone wins, she says.
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