FOREST HILLS, NY – New Yorkers frequently use hospital emergency departments for a variety of problems, ranging from true medical emergencies to complaints that could be treated in a primary care setting. According to studies, patients who regularly see their primary care physicians are less likely to use emergency rooms (ER) for problems that don’t warrant that level of care.
To change the traditional way of care delivery, Forest Hills Hospital and other facilities within the North Shore-LIJ Health System are using an innovative population and network management platform called Health Connect, which provides real time appointments for thousands of ER patients for their follow up care upon leaving the hospital. The technology, developed by Newport Health Solutions in partnership with North Shore-LIJ, gives participating providers the ability to follow a patient’s journey, provides a common platform upon which to monitor referrals and allows for better collaboration on patient care.
“It allows us to make appointments directly with physicians offices, either for primary care or, if necessary, a specialist within our network of doctors in the health system,” said Hallie Bleau, an acute-care nurse practitioner and senior administrative director at Forest Hills, which began using Health Connect on September 7, becoming the second hospital within North Shore-LIJ’s 21-hospital network to use the software. The software program was launched last year at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan.
Typically, upon being discharged from the ER, patients receive paper follow up instructions. However, studies show that only 26 to 56 percent of ER patients in the US comply with those recommendations, so there is little or no mechanism to follow a patient’s journey after their ER visit. Providing patients with real time appointments upon discharge allows providers to increase compliance.
“This initiative has dramatically improved patients’ experience when they visit our ER,” said Ms. Bleau. “Health Connect is pioneering a new movement around population health, allowing us to successfully ‘close the loop’ for hundreds of patients, reduce readmissions, provide continuity of care and develop strong partnerships with community providers.”
ER patients at Forest Hills who need specialized follow-up care are often referred to North Shore-LIJ’s Rego Park Multi Specialty Center at 95-25 Queens Boulevard, explained Ms. Bleau. The center offers 17 clinical specialties and all services are integrated with Forest Hills and the health system.“The hope is that we connect them successfully with their doctor and specialist and then we avoid them unnecessarily utilizing our emergency room in the future,” she said.