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North County Health Services installs automated patient notification system with receipt of grant

Alex Groves

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North County Health Services will activate a new system of patient notification this week to better serve individuals with conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, something it was able to do after receiving a grant of more than $38,000 from a national organization.

The Innovations in Community Health grant – which came from CVS Caremark Pharmacy’s charitable arm – went toward the facilitation of a centralized directory with a list of patients and their conditions. The directory will be utilized for an automated system that will either text or call patients (depending on their preference) when it is time to come in and get a checkup.

An online system will keep track of when a patient comes in and for what appointments, and will automatically send out reminders if patients are missing a particular type of checkup such as an LDL test for individuals with high cholesterol or an A1C test for individuals with diabetes.

The automated system is being put in place for a variety of reasons, but one of the most important is making sure that patients are at their most optimal health, according to Joseph Crane, a representative for North County Health Services.

Crane said the days of simply having good bedside manner as a doctor or physician are over.

Now, doctor offices and their staff aren’t only evaluated for whether or not their patients are satisfied but also whether their patients are healthy.

By notifying patients about important checkups, Crane said, NCHS will have a better ability to curb the number of emergency room visits that happen in the area and bring down the number of people who develop serious complications from their illnesses.

“Especially for a federally qualified health clinic, this is pretty advanced,” Crane said. “I can’t say that we’re the only ones doing it, but I’d say it’s pretty rare for a community clinic to be able to provide this proactive approach toward improving the health of our population.”

But between the time NCHS received the grant and the time it facilitated the service, things have been a little rocky. There were multiple challenges toward putting together the new system.

Crane said one of those challenges was compiling a directory of all the patients from its 10 regional offices and then putting together a system that could actually tell when it was time for those patients to visit their doctors.

Another key challenge was just putting together a grant proposal that would stand out among its competition at the national level, according to Grant Developer Alta Farley.

 

Farley said she believes NCHS won the grant because of its commitment to not only introduce innovative methods for improving patient health but because of its commitment to providing low-cost care options for people who want to keep their chronic illnesses in check. That commitment to affordability is in part what inspired the automated service in the first place.

“The whole purpose of this grant was to use innovation to palpably impact low-income patients who have chronic illnesses,” Farley said. “The innovation that we were (proposing) was through cell phones and texting.”

Farley added that the audited system would work as a sort of encouragement to get people through the door to utilize NCHS’s low-cost services.

Still, the effectiveness of the program has yet to be determined. Crane said the directory has been completed and the first sample texts have been sent out, but the program won’t be completely unrolled until sometime this week. As of right now, there isn’t any visible data to evaluate it with.

But Crane remains steadfast in his belief that the new program will make a noticeable difference.

“It’s certainly going to help,” he said. “I can’t wait to see what it’s going to do.”

Alex Groves is a freelance writer in the region

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1 Comment

One Response to “North County Health Services installs automated patient notification system with receipt of grant”

  1. Timothy on June 9th, 2014 9:07 am

    tnx for info.

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North County Health Services installs automated patient notification system with receipt of grant