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Exclusive: USF CEO Discusses Telehealth/EHR Integration

August 15, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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Bringing back ‘house calls’ through telehealth/EHR integration
USF Health CEO, Stephen Klasko, M.D

In an announcement this week, at the Chicago-based EHR vendor Allscripts’ client experience event, University of South Florida (USF) Health became one of the first university health systems in the country to integrate EHR and telehealth solutions into a coordinated effort with a retirement community, according to USF Health CEO, Stephen Klasko, M.D.

The partnership between Allscripts, telehealth vendor American Well (Boston), USF Health, and The Villages, a Tampa-based 55-and-older community, will give residents of The Villages access to a physician, with results and access to their medical record cued up, any time day or night, Dr. Klasko says. USF is going to be one of the test subjects for the initial rollout of this EHR/telehealth integration, which Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman says, is slated to begin in January.

For USF Health, which encompasses USF's colleges of medicine, nursing, public health and pharmacy as well as USF Physician Group, the anytime access makes sense from a convenience level for patients in The Villages, a community which is an hour-and-a-half  away from USF.

“In this country if you have congestive heart failure (CHF), the whole issue is monitoring your weight and making sure you’re not gaining a lot of fluids,” Klasko says. “In 2012, we [still] ask people to go to the doctor’s office three times a week to get weighed. Think of how stupid that is. You have to drive to your doctor’s office, you have to wait, and then you have to get on a scale.”

In contrast, the telehealth collaboration, Klasko says, will be able to give patients with CHF wireless scales, and automatically send the results to their physician through the telehealth solution. If there is a problem, since the telehealth is integrated into the EHR, USF Health will take care of it. More importantly, he adds, if the patients has a question, it can be answered at any time of the night. In a way, he says, it’s bringing the “old house call,” back in style, he says.

“It will bring doctors and patients much closer together,” Klasko predicts. In addition, he says there will be financial incentives for care providers. “It will be a way for doctors and nurses to be able to expand some of their revenue, because they’ll have opportunity to interact with patients, either current patients or new ones.”

The integration into Allscripts’ EHR platform, will also make available many of the clinical decision support system (CDS) functions. Thanks to mobile connectivity to the EHR, Klasko says, physicians can e-Prescribe remotely through the integrated platform.

The concept for this university-community collaboration and EHR/telehealth integration came from USF’s desire to “do tomorrow’s healthcare today,” Klasko says. Leadership at USF Health looked for ways to implementation what will be commonplace in healthcare 10 years from now into their current operations. One of the things they ended up deciding on was making online care a larger part of USF’s integrated healthcare system, through this EHR/telehealth deal.