One Year Later: The First Physician Practice to Connect to CORHIO Talks About How HIE is Making an Impact

Date: November 28th, 2012Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, CORHIO Network, Specialty Care

Alpine Urology uses HIE to electronically retrieve lab results -- saving time, reducing costs and improving patient satisfaction.

Last summer, Alpine Urology became the first physician practice in the state to connect to CORHIO’s health information exchange (HIE). For the last year, Alpine Urology’s offices in Boulder, Louisville and Longmont have realized the benefits of CORHIO’s secure network -- chiefly the electronic exchange of patient laboratory information. “Lab work is a big part of how physicians practice medicine – having it available at their fingertips is priceless,” said Bill Carlton, practice administrator at Alpine.

Electronic Lab Results Save Practice Valuable Time and Reduce Costs

Obtaining patient lab information was once a time-consuming and less efficient process at Alpine Urology. Lab results were primarily sent via fax, and a staff member would need to retrieve the fax, track down the patient chart, and manually scan results into the electronic health record (EHR). With their current connection to CORHIO, Alpine Urology now receives lab results seamlessly into their EHR, which can be immediately accessed and reviewed. Any abnormal results are highlighted in red, which is easily noticeable. “It’s not just a black and white piece of paper sitting in a file for weeks waiting for someone to look at it,” said Carlton.

Since Alpine Urology no longer wastes time tracking down patient information or scanning documents, the amount of personnel time devoted to labs has been greatly reduced. Carlton estimates they have been able to save the cost of a part-time office staff member. Carlton added, “Being able to retrieve lab results electronically has also reduced what we spend on paper and toner cartridges. All of that adds up after a while, especially with three offices.”

HIE Improves Security and Patient Satisfaction

In addition to reducing costs and saving staff resources, the HIE has improved patient information security. The lab data is tracked by a combination of patient identifiers, ensuring that the results are delivered into the correct patient chart. Previously, if there were patients with similar names, lab results could have easily been misfiled. Also, before Alpine was connected to the HIE, faxes were sometimes sent when no one was in the office, which created additional opportunities for files to be misplaced.

Another key benefit of electronic lab results is patient satisfaction. “When the patient calls and asks for their results, if the lab has done their part, then it’s in our system,” said Carlton. “The nurses don’t have to pull a chart and go looking through a stack of papers that haven’t been scanned yet. The results are available in our EHR system and the nurse can pull it up right away – the process is so much more efficient. It ends up being a lot less frustrating for our nurses, the front office staff and our patients.”