Feature Story: Population Health: Pt 2

May 28, 2016

Technology reduces wait times

Aside from no longer passing people from place to place for their care, Regional One Health is also tackling wait times.

When people check in, they receive an ID badge. Embedded in the badge is an RFID (radio-frequency identification) chip. This chip allows us to track how long they’ve been waiting and whether a nurse or a doctor is with them. If the patient has been waiting longer than a pre-designated time, a nurse or a doctor is notified.

Equipment is also tagged with RFID chips, so if a patient needs an EKG, a staff member can check the board and easily locate the proper equipment. With this new technology, we’re reducing patients’ wait time which improves patient satisfaction and allows us to treat more patients. Taking five to 10 minutes off each wait time allows us to see 10 to 20 more patients each day.

Different patients, different needs

Another key to improving population health is flexibility. Not every patient has the same needs, and health care providers must adapt to the people who choose them for services and care.

Part of population health is understanding our population. Think about Medicare members; many senior citizens want a face-to-face visit with a known and trusted physician. Millennials tend to want fast and easy access to health care options and they want to get in and out—and that’s only if there isn’t a video appointment available.

We’re exploring options to deliver telemedicine, the provision of remote access to a physician via phone or videoconference to address health care concerns. Telemedicine provides an alternative to urgent care or the emergency room for more minor concerns like ear infections and colds. These video visits can decrease cost and increase access, quality and efficiency, as well as patient satisfaction.

“As an additional way to utilize telemedicine, we’re exploring placing telemedicine equipment in rural hospital emergency rooms in surrounding counties,” says Bret. “For example, we’ll be able to better assess burn patients to identify those who should be transferred to our burn center for the specialized treatment only we can provide in this area.”

Regional One Health’s newest primary care office, Harbor of Health, located in Harbor Town, is another example of a service delivery model designed with the needs and preferences of the community in mind.

“The voice of the customer is imperative when we’re thinking about new models of care,” Susan says. “We can design an excellent population health-based system, but if it isn’t what people want or desire, people won’t use it.”

In the case of Harbor of Health, people who live in Harbor Town or work downtown want fast, convenient primary care services that don’t interfere with their work schedules. Harbor of Health is open from 7 a.m. to   7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and   from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday. Walk-ins are welcome and same-day appointments are available.

While much progress has been made, Regional One Health will continue to innovate and develop cutting-edge programs that will meet the needs of the Mid-South. This effort requires consistently listening to the voice of patients, improving upon the design and implementing new strategies that will allow us to continue to lead in the marketplace.

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