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Dr James Whitfill: Coordinating Care on a Virtual and Physical Level

Scottsdale Health Partners has improved coordinated care on both a physical and a virtual level through the creation of a secure texting connection for real-time collaboration, James Whitfill, MD, chief medical officer of Scottsdale Health Partners, explained at the National Association of Accountable Care Organizationsí Spring 2016 Conference.


Scottsdale Health Partners has improved coordinated care on both a physical and a virtual level through the creation of a secure texting connection for real-time collaboration, James Whitfill, MD, chief medical officer of Scottsdale Health Partners, explained at the National Association of Accountable Care Organizations’ Spring 2016 Conference.

Transcript (slightly modified)

How has Scottsdale Health Partners improved coordinated care?

So when we work at Scottsdale Health Partners to improve coordinated care, I think there’s both a virtual layer and there’s a physical layer. That’s sort of like the “tech-y” way to approach it, I guess.

So at a physical layer, we’ve worked to improve the communication in the relationships between our physicians. That might come through governance so that we might have surgeons and primary care physicians working on quality committees together. But we’ve created now sort of a community where people interact with each other more readily. To do that we facilitated communication through 2 main channels: we’ve created a secure texting solution so that physicians can talk back and forth with each other, oftentimes in real time. So if I’m seeing a patient in my office, and she has some atypical chest pain, and I’m not sure if she really needs to see the cardiologist or not, I can securely message one of my cardiology colleagues, send a copy of the EKG, and, in real time, we can discuss whether or not that patient needs to be seen in the cardiologist’s office, or does she need to go to the emergency room, or can I follow this by myself.

Has there been a learning curve or any resistance to using the text messaging system?

While the technology sounds pretty exciting, it’s taken us a while to figure out how to drive adoption. And what we’ve found in the initial phases is, like any technology that involves people communicating, if you don’t have a critical mass of people participating then it’s hard to get it started.

So what we did is we created incentives. For example, continuing to be a member of Scottsdale Health Partners requires meaningful participation in our network, and using our technology is one way that you can get points towards that participation. So beginning to incentivize people to use a technology, or at least to test it out, and then once they see how easy it is and how useful it is, it starts to feed on itself. 

 
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