Orthopaedics: The Best Centers in Cincinnati
Mercy Health – Cincinnati Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center
Technology, Consolidation and Patient-Centered Care
In the 25 years since Michelle Andrews, MD, orthopaedic surgeon at Mercy Health – Cincinnati SportsMedicine and Orthopaedic Center (CSMOC), started practicing medicine, many things have changed.
“I am astounded at how well we now control pain,” she says. Anesthesia with the use of nerve “blocks” and local tissue injections plus decreasing surgical time and blood loss have had a positive impact in reducing patients’ post operative pain.
Medicine is rapidly changing and orthopaedic surgery is no exception. Technology is driving new techniques. But of course technology also raises costs. “As physicians, we need to be mindful of costs and make sure there is added value for our patients and that their ultimate outcome is improved. How do we maintain our technology improvements and continue to push forward when our healthcare budgets shrink? It is a bit of a puzzle, but not impossible. The solution takes creativity and commitment.”
As for the industry of healthcare, Dr. Andrews notes there have been plenty of changes there as well, especially in the last five years. Healthcare providers are leveraging information technology to benefit their patients. Electronic medical records (EMR) allow doctors to record information about a patient so that the information is available to other members of the patient’s healthcare team. This ability to share information improves patient care and decreases costs by decreasing redundancy of diagnostic tests. Andrews is a huge fan of EMR.
As with all professionals, excellence can only be achieved with a personal commitment. “I personally have put in thousands of hours learning EMR in an in-depth way to allow me to document vital patient information efficiently and allow me to move smoothly through the clinic and OR. I actively embrace the new technology. I appreciate the fact that I can use dictation software to get information into the medical record efficiently.” says Andrews, who is a self-proclaimed computer nerd and whose dream after retiring from medicine is to become an Apple Genius.
But implementing the use of electronic medical record software and hardware is an enormous up-front investment that small medical practices find difficult to afford. Thus, many healthcare providers have begun to consolidate into larger healthcare networks that are in a better position to bear these costs and manage the scale of these services.
For example, The Jewish Hospital, where Andrews has practiced since 2005, was acquired by Mercy Health in 2010. CSMOC, Andrews’ own practice, was acquired by Mercy Health in January 2014. A large part of the reason why Andrews and her fellow orthopods at CSMOC chose to become part of Mercy Health was Epic, a leading electronic medical record system. The Epic software makes it possible for instant access to patient information. This seamless access in turn improves patient care by improving documentation and access to test results and communication and data exchange between doctors, patients and insurance companies.
The use of technology in healthcare and the consolidation of healthcare providers is, Andrews notes, part of a larger industry trend to become more patient focused. “I love this because I’ve always been a patient-focused doctor,” says Andrews. Mercy Health and Andrews have mutually embraced patient-centered care. An example given by Dr. Andrews is the newly nationally recognized The Jewish Hospital – Mercy Health Total Joint Replacement Center of Excellence, “which not only has earned the distinction of superlative health care for our Total Knee and Total Hip Replacement patients but it also recognizes the measures of our success in patient outcome.
“It’s not just about the number of procedures done at our hospital, it’s about doing them right and measuring and documenting our patients’ success,” Andrews continues. “As an example, we can show that our length of stay is better, our complication rates are less and patient satisfaction scores are high. We have data driven quality measures that show our successes and provide learning opportunities for improvement in an objective manner. We can learn from each other as data is exchanged through clinical measures and joint registries. A rising tide lifts all boats.”