Children's Medical Group Hamden, Connecticut

Improving interoperability between practices allows for "a better picture of the patient"

At a Glance

Overview

7 Physicians
3 NPs
1 PA

Established in 1981

Challenges

  • Needs constant connectivity to hospital EHR
  • Requires the flexibility and ease of maintenance of a network-based solution
  • Doesn't have time to manually sort documentation

Results1

  • Instant access to patient records created by other providers in the community
  • 70% reduction in manual document filing
  • Less work for providers to maintain a full picture of the patient's care

Dr. Craig Summers’ relationship with Yale New Haven Hospital began when he was a pediatric resident. Since founding his own practice, Children’s Medical Group, in 1981, he has maintained a close working relationship with the hospital, where many of his patients are born, operated on, and referred to for specialist treatment. For more than three decades, Dr. Summers sustained this key relationship through phone calls, faxes, and most often, letters.

Easier Access Brings Greater Insight into Patient Care

None of these communications were in real time, and coordinating patients’ care outside of his practice in this way made it difficult for Dr. Summers to follow up on their outcomes. “If it wasn’t an acute problem, it could disappear off my radar until I got a letter back [from the specialist],” Dr. Summers said. Finally, in 2014, Dr. Summers partnered with athenahealth to get his practice off paper and onto an EMR and revenue cycle management system.

Dr. Summers said he chose athenahealth for “its network design on the cloud, the flexible platform that offered us all upgrades without hidden costs, and support for the requirements we expected to be faced with to qualify for Meaningful Use and patient-centered medical home programs.” But in the meantime, Yale New Haven was already using Epic for its electronic health records (EHR), so one of the first challenges athenahealth partnered with Children’s Medical Group to resolve was establishing a connection between the two systems.

Children’s Medical Group worked with athenahealth’s dedicated interoperability team and the IT team at Yale New Haven, and now his practice can access a single view of the patient chart to track care across both settings.

When a baby is born at Yale New Haven Hospital, a new patient record is created in athenaNet, and providers at Children’s Medical Group can access it immediately from their practice in Hamden. By the time the patient comes in, they can see the care the baby has already received and also pull information from siblings’ charts to generate the medical and social history for the new patient. It’s the first step in establishing a longitudinal view of the patient that “paints the picture that I would always want to see when taking care of one of my patients,” said Dr. Summers.

Over time, this easy access to a single view of the patient helps Children’s Medical Group provide more attentive care. “When someone calls or comes in and I open up that chart, I can navigate to the issue more effectively and see what’s transpired around the event and illness,” Dr. Summers said. In addition to decreasing the distractions he faces while seeing patients, this also helps Dr. Summers more easily make efficient, cost-effective care decisions—a key factor in helping his practice adapt to value-based care. “The immediate ROI was being able to see the picture of the patient almost at any time or any place. Whether I was at home or I was away or on my phone or at the office, I had a better picture of the patient.”

Smart Curation of Patient Data Minimizes Extra Work

Simply receiving more patient data, though, wasn’t the final solution for Children’s Medical Group. Across the industry, information overload has been a common side effect of increased interoperability. A recent study found that primary-care physicians receive 77 notifications a day, on average. Only 20 percent of those were test results.2

“The immediate ROI was being able to see the picture of the patient almost at any time or any place. Whether I was at home or I was away or on my phone or at the office, I had a better picture of the patient. ” Dr. Craig Summers, Children’s Medical Group

Dr. Summers had seen this for years in his correspondence with specialists: “They tend to provide me reams of information, when there’s probably a paragraph I’m interested in.” To help him hone in on the information he needed most, athenahealth worked with Dr. Summers to create the “Outside Visit Summary,” which organizes documents shared by other providers his patients see. We also created rules to automatically file unnecessary documents within athenaNet, so the only notifications Dr. Summers receives in his inbox are admissions summaries, discharge summaries, and emergency department notes. If he wants to view additional information, Dr. Summers can open these auto-filed documents, but they won’t distract his attention from what’s most important.

Both of these capabilities are still in the alpha phase, but the features and functionality developed for Children’s Medical Group will inform future chart-sharing capabilities developed for the entire athenahealth network.

During a period just over two weeks long, the athenahealth team helped Children’s Medical Group reduce the number of documents to be worked for newborn patients by 88 percent by automatically creating newborn charts so related documents could be properly identified and labeled. Now athenaNet automatically labels 70 percent of the documentation the practice receives.

Maintaining Clinical Relationships—and Organizational Independence

For a small practice such as Children’s Medical Group, an efficient approach to interoperability can help reduce administrative work, improve the quality of care, and ultimately thrive as an independent practice at a time when health systems encourage their affiliates to work within one system. Partnering with athenahealth, Dr. Summers said, “provides me the flexibility of maintaining my independence and yet still being tied directly to the institution that I care about, that I need, and that I use—much more effectively than previously.”

This partnership not only drives positive results for Children’s Medical Group, but also for the healthcare system as a whole. Easy access to a complete view of the patient’s medical history helps Dr. Summers avoid ordering duplicate or redundant testing. In the long-term, he said, “It’s going to pay dividends, because I’m going to direct patients’ care more efficiently without redundant testing and save the system money as well.”

About Patient Record Sharing

Built into the athenaClinicals® EHR, Patient Record Sharing helps you exchange patient records with outside care sites—via the athenahealth client network, CommonWell3, and Carequality4—and use those records to positively impact care.


  • Works with any EMR including Epic, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, McKesson, and more
  • Automatic search: as soon as you open a patient record, we find and surface related records right in the chart, including physician notes.
  • Easy to use: incoming documents are labeled clearly so you can find what you need.
  • Less work: we build and maintain the connections to CommonWell and Carequality, so your IT team doesn't have to.
  • Continually updated: we keep up with technology and government rules, update our solution, and automatically roll out changes to you.

Work less, achieve more.
Guaranteed.

We're so sure we can take administrative 
work off your plate, we guarantee it.

Learn More

About Patient Record Sharing

Built into the athenaClinicals® EHR, Patient Record Sharing helps you exchange patient records with outside care sites—via the athenahealth client network, CommonWell3, and Carequality4—and use those records to positively impact care.


  • Works with any EMR including Epic, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, McKesson, and more
  • Automatic search: as soon as you open a patient record, we find and surface related records right in the chart, including physician notes.
  • Easy to use: incoming documents are labeled clearly so you can find what you need.
  • Less work: we build and maintain the connections to CommonWell and Carequality, so your IT team doesn't have to.
  • Continually updated: we keep up with technology and government rules, update our solution, and automatically roll out changes to you.

Learn More


Work less, achieve more.
Guaranteed.

We're so sure we can take administrative 
work off your plate, we guarantee it.Contact Us to Learn More
 

Work less, achieve more. Guaranteed.

If you're not satisfied with the amount of work we've saved you after 18 months, we'll give you a refund of six months of service fees when you switch vendors.*  Talk to an athenahealth representative today to learn more.

1 These results reflect the experience of one particular practice and are not necessarily what every athenahealth client should expect.1 These results reflect the experience of one particular practice and are not necessarily what every athenahealth client should expect.
2 Daniel R. Murphy, MD, MBA; Ashley N. D. Meyer, PhD; Elise Russo, MPH; Dean F. Sittig, PhD; Li Wei, MS; Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH; “The Burden of Inbox Notifications in Commercial Electronic Health Records,” JAMA Intern Med. 176, no. 4 (2016): 559-560.
3 CommonWell Health Alliance is a health data sharing network that enables cross-vendor data exchange by using a suite of technology services. Through CommonWell, athenahealth providers can exchange records with care sites on Cerner, Greenway and other participating vendors. For more information on CommonWell, please visit their website: http://www.commonwellalliance.org/.
4 Carequality is a framework that provides a governance structure, legal foundation and technical standards designed to help networks connect to one another and exchange data. Through Carequality, athenahealth providers can exchange records with care sites on Epic and other participating vendors. For more information on Carequality, please visit their website: http://sequoiaproject.org/carequality/