Throughout the global pandemic, I have seen the word “hero” used quite a lot. It got me thinking about what makes a hero: courage, outstanding achievements, noble qualities all come to mind.
Stories about heroes inspire us to do more and do better.
That is why I’m excited to share more about the winners of DrFirst’s inaugural Healthiverse Heroes Award. This award honors trailblazers whose innovative use of technology is helping break down communication silos in ways that improve patient outcomes.
We are privileged to work with many such trailblazers at DrFirst and I am honored to see several of them represented here. As founder and CEO, I am personally inspired by these healthcare leaders and grateful they are part of the DrFirst community. Each one has turned a challenge into an opportunity to improve care. Combining ingenuity with innovative technology, these heroes are helping us realize the vision of the “Healthiverse”—a united healthcare universe where everyone is connected in real time with the information they need, so patients get the best care.
We’re pleased to recognize the following forward-thinking healthcare providers and organizations for their exceptional achievements in a remarkably challenging year. Here are their stories:
Bartle’s Health Mart Pharmacy
Why They Won: Independent community pharmacies have a history of providing personal healthcare services to their local population. Bartle’s Pharmacy has been serving the Oxford, New York, area for more than 50 years. The pharmacy is using technology, including Backline by DrFirst for secure messaging, to help ensure that patients with chronic conditions stay compliant with their treatment programs. In addition to communicating with patients whose prescriptions require special handling and coordination, Bartle’s can also use the solution to remind patients to pick up prescriptions, clarify prescription details, or check on a patient who has started a new therapy. These personal connections with healthcare providers and patients help streamline care coordination, share information, and improve operational efficiency.
In Their Own Words: “We were pleased to be recognized for how we use technology to communicate securely with patients who have complex monthly prescription refills that need to be synchronized with other prescriptions and may have special packaging requirements. Interestingly, because we were already using the Backline care collaboration platform for this purpose, we were able to quickly adapt its use to meet our needs to coordinate and collaborate for COVID-19 rollout. It’s very humbling to be recognized in this way. We always try to do what’s right for the community and always do the right thing for our community employees. It’s nice to see it serve the greater good.” – Heather Ferrarese, Pharm.D., Owner, Bartles’ Pharmacy
Big Sky Care Connect
Category: Vendors of EHR, HIE, and Pharmacy Information Systems
Why They Won: In rural states like Montana, where patients often travel long distances and visit multiple healthcare facilities for care, it’s essential that providers can efficiently exchange patient data. Big Sky Care Connect, a nonprofit organization created in 2018 to respond to the need for a state-wide coordinated health information exchange (HIE), is extending interoperability of disparate systems to improve Montana providers’ access to their patients’ health data.
In Their Own Words: “We don’t necessarily have access to information even within our own town, let alone across the state. The MedHx integration brings a different level of knowledge about the patients to the participants of the HIE. Not only do we get to see what prescriptions that patients are prescribed, but we get to see if they filled their prescription, and we get their complete medication history.” – Randy Thompson, Chief Health Analytics Officer, Billings Clinic
Category: Hospitals and Health Systems (100-500 Beds)
Why They Won: To limit exposure to COVID-19 and preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), hospitals nationwide instituted strict measures to limit contact with infected patients as much as possible. While necessary, the result was a sense of isolation and disconnection. Frederick Health recognized the opportunity to use a care collaboration and telehealth platform to connect patients, families, and physicians while limiting exposure to the virus.
In Their Own Words: “We appreciate the collaboration with DrFirst in finding a solution to meet our patient’s needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frederick Health utilized the DrFirst HIPAA-compliant telehealth solution for telehealth visits between providers and patients, consultants and patients, and for our patients and their families to communicate with each other and with providers during times of limited visitation.” – Jackie Rice, VP and CIO, Frederick Health
Neptune Township EMS
Category: Emergency Medical Services
Why They Won: When a patient suffers a heart attack, stroke, or other major trauma, rapid access to medical care often means the difference between life and death. To help speed treatment times in emergencies and protect patients from adverse drug events, Neptune Township EMS paramedics and EMTs are scanning barcodes on the back of patients’ driver’s licenses to confirm their identities and access medication histories.
In Their Own Words: “Neptune Township EMS strives to provide the best care possible, both clinically and operationally. Using DrFirst’s Backline for EMS allows us to get valuable information from less-than-responsive patients and enables real-time communication with our receiving facility. Using Backline in the field allows us to save precious minutes during the patient transfer process. Patient care is paramount for EMS, and any time saved during the process is critical and enables us to provide more positive and professional service to those we serve.” – William Rosen, EMS Manager, Neptune Township EMS
Jeffrey Schnipper, M.D., MPH
Category: Healthcare Providers
Why He Won: Jeffrey Schnipper, M.D., MPH, is Director of Clinical Research at Brigham & Women’s Hospital Medicine Unit and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and leads the Society of Hospital Medicine’s MARQUIS Med Rec Collaborative. His work with the MARQUIS Med Rec Collaborative is helping hospitals nationwide reduce unintentional medication discrepancies that lead to adverse drug events and patient harm.
In His Own Words: “It is an honor to accept this award from DrFirst. It has been a pleasure to work with them over the last few years to improve medication reconciliation. They are as passionate about medication safety as I am.” – Jeffrey Schnipper, M.D., MPH
Category: Life Sciences
Why They Won: Finding qualified patients is an important part of executing any successful clinical trial or patient research project. In many cases, a project’s inclusion and exclusion criteria can make it a challenge to find patients who qualify. To engage patients outside of traditional advertising methods and significantly reduce the cost to pre-qualify them, United BioSource (UBC) developed a patient outreach program to educate qualifying patients about a clinical trial. Once the doctor writes an electronic prescription, RxInform automatically sends a text message to the patient’s mobile device. More than 93,000 qualifying patients were identified using automatic notifications during a recent UBC clinical trial, and 24,000 patients were routed to the study website. As a result, approximately 2,400 patients are in various stages of follow-up and enrollment.
In Their Own Words: “UBC is honored to receive this award from DrFirst. One of our foundational values is innovation. Using technology to provide meaningful patient involvement and engagement in clinical trials and patient support is critical to our mission of Patients First.” – Ron Lacy, VP, Products and Innovation, United BioSource
Category: Hospitals and Health Systems (500+ Beds)
Why They Won: For every hospital, rapid access to a patient’s medication history is critical to quality patient care. Mergers and partnerships at WellSpan Health added EHRs across care locations over time, causing gaps in medical records as patients interacted with providers using different EHRs across the health system. The health system needed to consolidate patient information in its Epic EHR so clinicians could access data, such as medication history, at the point of care to provide optimal care and reduce adverse drug events. To save time, improve access to data, and prevent adverse drug events, WellSpan used MedHx and the SmartSig AI engine to convert clinical data while addressing discrepancies and variations from old EHRs, inferring missing data with context from medication histories to prevent blank fields.
In Their Own Words: “WellSpan Health is focused on leveraging safe, secure, and reliable electronic health records that we know will ultimately improve patient care. Unifying our EHR is a significant part of our commitment to provide a seamless, integrated delivery system, and we are honored to be recognized by DrFirst for this effort.” – R. Hal Baker, M.D., Sr. VP and Chief Digital Information Officer, WellSpan Health
Please join me in congratulating these healthcare leaders for their exceptional efforts and dedication to overcoming the enormous obstacles of the past year!