By MAGGIE MENDERSKI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Blessing Physician Services will implement software this year that aims to bring patients in for preventive care and keep them out of hospitals in the long run.
While patients have always received manual appointment reminders from Blessing staff, but the new software from Phytel will issue automated reminders for preventive measures such as mammograms and colonoscopies. Gina Genenbacher, director for Blessing Physician Services, says the new technology should encourage patients to schedule routine proactive tests that may catch a problem in its earliest stages.
"It's so important in health care reform to try and get to stuff on the front end," Genenbacher said. "It is not just about treating diseases anymore."
Amber Cloninger, director of support services for Blessing Physician Services, said the technology will allow doctors to pull advanced reports that illustrate how their patient populations as a whole have done with keeping up with preventive care. Genenbacher said under health care reform doctors has switched from taking care of one patient at a time during a specific office visit to treating the entire population. This means doctors watch how specific groups of patients fare as a whole.
"Every case is still individualized but you will look at them as a whole, such as the decreasing obesity levels in your patient population," Genenbacher said.
Genenbacher said the new system will not increase the cost of care for patients. The cost of the software was not available, but Genenbacher said physicians would receive an individual subscription to the program.
"The whole realm of technology is going in this direction. As we all get on electronic records more, these are the things that we can use them for," Genenbacher said.
Blessing Physician Services has more than 50 providers that serve medical offices in Quincy, Warsaw and Palmyra, Mo. as well as specialty clinics in Carthage, Pittsfield, Warsaw and Memphis, Mo. When Phytel services go live, patients from all offices will receive automated appointment reminders and outreach calls for preventive care reminders. Cloninger anticipated the system would go live by the end of 2013.
"We're trying our hardest to have some sort of system to call those patients, but this will be a lot more sophisticated," Cloninger said.