Improving Health Communication: Karl's Story
77-year old Karl lives in Kitchener. He is a widower and has two grown children and four grandchildren. He enjoys visits with his family when he’s well enough to leave his apartment or have visitors drop by. He has congestive heart failure, kidney disease and diabetes. He has good days and bad.
When Karl visits his family doctor, she, and the team that works with her, not only address his health concerns but also discuss preventative care with Karl.
By using the best practice templates in the electronic medical record provided by Project QBIC (Quality Based Improvements in Care), Karl’s family doctor is able to determine appropriate preventative treatments, such as vaccinations for things like pneumonia, which can prevent unnecessary illness and visits to the emergency department and hospitalization.
Project QBIC also provides tools that allow Karl’s care team to identify lab tests that should be done within the best practice time. For Karl, that means a reminder comes up in his electronic medical record that prompts his doctor to send him for blood tests to check his kidney function even though that was not the purpose of his visit on that day. Because Karl has difficulty remembering things like medical appointments, his doctor’s office schedules a reminder phone call to Karl several days before his appointment so he doesn’t miss it.
The technology also guides physicians to consider a patient’s complex needs when making decisions about appropriate medications. For example, a few months after his last visit, Karl returned to his doctor complaining of joint pain. The doctor diagnosed his condition as gout. Through the information in his EMR, she was able to determine that Karl could not take the medication that is regularly prescribed for gout because it could affect his kidney function. Good primary care and electronic medical records prevented Karl from getting a medication that could have made his kidneys worse.
“From a patient perspective, I would like to see a seamless transition from one care setting to another where their information is available at any point of care so that they can get appropriate care, at the right time and in the right place. That is why it’s important to have a sustainable health system supported by technology.”
– Dr. Mohamed Alarakhia, Enabling Technologies (eHealth) Lead, WWLHIN
Revolutionizing Medicine Through Technology
You can go back to 1895, when German Physicist Wilhelm Röntgen was credited with discovering X-rays, to see how much technology has changed the way doctors diagnose and treat their patients. Today, technology is still revolutionizing medicine to ensure patients are getting the right care, at the right time, in the right place.
Recently, the eHealth Centre of Excellence (eCE) was recognized through a 2015 National Leading Practice Initiative that explores how EMRs can be used in clinical environments to help health professionals improve their quality of care and deliver more efficient and targeted care to their patients.
Locally, this initiative is helping residents like Karl.