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Healthcare Magic in Florida’s Capital City

How Tallahassee is delivering patient records 481,135 minutes faster than anywhere else

It all started with a request for annual referral analytics from Suzie Gustafson at Tallahassee Primary Care Associates (TPCA). This was not an unfamiliar request but the discovery I made after pulling it was as magical as a mermaid, cat, unicorn hybrid. After providing the requested information to Suzie, I couldn’t help but dig in to see what other information I could gleam from the data in front of me.

3,994 total records, consisting of 797,993 pages, sent over a 12-month period

For vast majority of healthcare organizations in the county these records would have taken 797,993 minutes (or 13,299 hours, or 554 days) to delivery. You are probably saying to yourself “huh?”, and that is ok I will do my best to explain my logic. You see, despite the advancement of EMR technology over the last decade and half, the healthcare delivery system still heavily relies on fax technology invented in 1964 (some might even say the technology dates back as far as 1843). I will admit there have been some ‘advancements’ in the technology over the years, for example you can now send an electronic fax from virtually anywhere without a physical machine. This is great if your goal is to prevent paper waste and save a forest, but in the grand scheme of things has it REALLY made healthcare more efficient?

My response to that question is ‘no it has not’! No matter if you are sticking paper in a physical fax machine or pressing send in your EMR the standard industry delivery time across the board is approximately 1 minute per page (if the fax is successful on the first attempt).  I could go into all the other issues with faxing, but I’ll save that for another time, today I just want to draw attention to the deliver time. Now, back to my math

797,993 pages = 797,993 minutes

So how is Tallahassee delivering patient records seemingly 60% faster (481,135 ÷ 797,993) than the rest of the healthcare community? It is simply, over a decade and half ago Tallahassee Primary Care Associates committed to idea of providing the most efficient healthcare possible for their patients, and joined the then Big Bend Regional Healthcare Information Exchange (BBRHIO), now known as Centralis Health.

 “Early on a small group of inspired community leaders, physicians and healthcare executives recognized the problems that existed and were actually growing in front of our eyes. Issues that are spoken of in general terms like “effectiveness”, “efficiency”, “responsiveness”, “improved experience and outcomes”. Concepts we all recognize and aspire to improve, but which are exceptionally difficult to tackle logistically in the complex world of healthcare. Humble volunteer efforts of these leaders began as the BBRHIO, and continue to this day through Centralis Health.

 As a regional and growing healthcare community, the Big Bend has not solved all of the challenges that exist.  Yet the participants that started the BBRHIO years ago, planting a flag for meaningful improvement, remain firmly committed to tackling difficult issues one at a time. And their efforts have solved many of the challenges.

 The effort is not done but is continuing tirelessly through community collaboration, vision, innovation, and the commitment and skill of Centralis Health.”  Tom Harrison Chief Executive Officer at Tallahassee Primary Care Associates.

The Centralis Health footprint in the Tallahassee community as grown exponentially year of year, building a patient referral network like no other. A few years back TPCA took another leap of faith and integrated their EMR with the Centralis Health hFax solution, at that time we thought we knew what the outcome would be but the results have blown me away. This is where the magic happens and let me take you behind the curtain so you can do magic too, communication between Centralis Health referral partners never touch a fax line or a carrier network. Records are delivered in-network instantaneously and without fail, providing real time audit events and communications bi-directionally between connected hospitals and practices.  Over the last year, TPCA has sent 797,993 pages of records to their referrals partners and 481,135 were sent in-network, instantaneously and without fail.

“I have a hard time believing that there are still health care entities shackled to antiquated fax machines. The real time exchange of data and communication via the Centralis dashboard and the ability to track referrals or other types of data exchange is liberating and extremely efficient. When both entities are connected there are no instances of information not received. Communication happens through the dashboard with no phone calls. It’s a game changer.” Suzie Gustafson Patient Outcomes Managers at Tallahassee Primary Care Associates.

Centralis Health provides the tools that support more efficient communication and flow of records between referrals partners, but the true everyday magic is in the participants who utilize those tools to provide a better experience for their patients.  My hat is off to the healthcare leaders, like TPCA, who understand that every minute counts when it comes to patient care, and invest in technologies that makes them 60% faster than the rest.

by Katie Bradley, Director of Operations and Account Success

As Director of Operations and Workflow, Bradley is responsible for helping hospitals and medical practitioners transition from their outdated and manual health care communications workflows and processes to embrace Centralis Health’s innovative and cloud-based solutions. This includes transforming existing fax, internal communications, and referral management processes to achieve maximum efficiency, productivity, and cost savings. In addition, Bradley leads efforts to encourage and engage greater community participation in health care exchanges between providers and hospitals. Prior to joining Centralis Health in 2015, Bradley served in a variety of administrative and operations roles in health care, including as Director of Operations for Digestive Disease Clinic in Tallahassee, FL. She graduated summa cum laude from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Services Administration. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.