“In a couple weeks, you’ll be able to see this, too” – Ending where I began, at Institute for Family Health

It’s interesting that it worked out the way it did, but the last organization I am visiting on my PCHIT journey is the organization I started at, Institute for Family Health. I didn’t plan it this way, it just happened. This time, though, things are different. IFH now has a physician champion for its online patient access to the medical record, Adam Szerencsy, DO, who is also the Medical Director of the Urban Horizons Medical Center in Bronx, NY.

Pictures, click on any to see full size

I give the leadership of IFH credit – when I first met Neil Calman, MD, literally on the first day of my sabbatical, he said that they would be launching patient online access in Spring, 2008, and here it is, happening. Spring, 2008 seemed like a long time for patients to wait at the time.

In the interim period, I have worked with Neil and Adam and their superstar developer Jonah some, but they have done all of the work. My visit was a bit of a graduation day for me, and it was terrific. At the end of every patient visit, Adam excitedly told every patient that they, too, would be able to share in the access to their own medical records. I really loved the way he inquired, too. He would start with, “Do you have a computer at home?” Some patients said, “No,” but he did not stop there. He then asked, “Do you have access to the Internet?” And guess what, I think every answer to that question was a “Yes.” The best part for me was to watch Adam talk to patients about how he would be there for them in this new way.

As with every other innovative organization I have visited, I learned of a new application of the patient access system – in a community where primary care / specialty care communication is at a premium, Adam will use this system to support doc to doc communication, by keeping patients informed and involved in their care. They will have access to a secure web site with their medical information (using a system manufactured by Epic Systems, Inc.), and will be able to print or show this information to referral physicians. In a sense, they will become human information exchanges. It’s important to know that they are already serving in this role – this will add accuracy to it and empower patients with their own medical information.

One other little thing that I hadn’t considered that Adam pointed out to me was the work of documenting in English on the electronic health record at the same time he was having a spanish conversation with the patient. He has mastered this now, but it’s another consideration for our field (Informatics) to have as we support culturally competent care. The record is in English, the conversations are not. What’s best for our patients?

After shadowing Adam in his clinical morning, we had lunch at a local eatery in the Bronx, and talked about the future. Adam has done a lot of work to support his physician colleagues in adopting this technology and as an adopter himself, and the Medical Director of his medical center, I think he’s put together the winning recipe – enthusiasm, energy, accountability, leadership, for the patient and for the community. When Institute for Family Medicine is successful, they will have a wonderful story to tell health care about how every patient in every health care system deserves the best health care available anywhere.

After talking about our digital futures, I asked for the check, and it came as a reminder of the past – a written piece of paper. I took a picture of it for this blog and captioned it with Adam’s word when it was handed to us. He said, “Authentic.”

Moving to a new blog

This is the last post of my journey here with PCHIT. I’ll be continuing at https://www.tedeytan.com, as this blog moves over to the Center for Information Therapy. I’ll post more on that soon.

Ted Eytan, MD