Helping an ACO Move Past Communication Silos to Create Cost Efficiencies and Improve Patient Care


Continue to create efficiencies that improve Total Cost of Care

With 1,000 physicians and more than 210,000 lives under contract, Wake Key Community Care (WKCC) had made great strides in managing Total Cost of Care, but leaders felt there was still opportunity for improvement in how they coordinated across they system with patient care.

Better urgent communication contributes to ED avoidance

They realized that in order to reach their full potential, they needed to move beyond their own walls and outside their silos. That meant enabling better communication and coordination of care across the entire health system, including primary care providers to specialists, primary care providers to the ED, primary care to inpatient care and more. To achieve a more seamless line of communication, WKCC turned to PH Connect to improve physician-to-physician communication, and streamline access to its on-call specialists and services.

“There is too much siloed care in healthcare, and the way primary care providers interact with hospitals and specialists has changed over the years,” explained Brian Klausner, MD and WKCC Chief Medical Officer. “Primary care providers no longer use pagers and are seldom still managing patients in the hospital and talking with specialists regularly. We need to communicate better—in an efficient and provider friendly way. We are all used to texting in our daily lives, but PH Connect offers providers a secure way to communicate and collaborate easily and efficiently.”

For any hospital, the ED is considered a large cost driver. Avoiding even a fraction of those visits would ensure that patients get better care while positively impacting costs for patients and hospitals. With that in mind, WKCC decided the ED was a perfect place to start. They set out to drive down the number of unnecessary ED visits by improving direct access to specialists, using PH Connect.

Non-emergency care is delivered by the appropriate level of provider, resulting in better resource utilization; improving patient care

“From a primary care standpoint, especially in an emergency room situation, there is a lot of disconnect,” expressed Klausner. “If you send a patient over to the emergency room, there could be a lot of miscommunication about why you are sending them over. This can result inefficient, incomplete or redundant care. The ability to immediately share details about the specific concerns that resulted in a provider sending a patient to the emergency room is important and equates to better patient care and patient safety.”

“I had a patient in my exam room experiencing chest pain. I was able to PH Connect a cardiologist with the patient in the room and review his case and EKG with him and develop a plan. The patient was extremely grateful he did not have to go to the emergency room – it saves him the cost, inconvenience and possible risks of an unnecessary ED visit” shared Klausner. “PH Connect allows providers to create a much more patient-centered and cost-effective experience while delivering more efficient and expedited care.”

Queued Messaging Makes Care Management Easier- Case managers and care advisors at WKCC are a critical resource as they, like many ACOs, seek to improve the health of managed populations while controlling costs. A case manager’s ability to provide impactful intervention is often dependent on his or her ability to get timely feedback from collaborative providers in the ACO. The delivery of timely and accurate communication is often complicated by disparate EHRs, layers of security required to access systems from mobile devices, ever-changing call schedules, answering services and antiquated modes of communication.

PH Connect’s Queued Messaging helps WKCC case managers better leverage access to the hundreds of PCPs already engaged on PH Connect throughout the WakeMed network, without interrupting days off and/or hours away from work. The sender of a queued message retains complete visibility into the status of a message and has the opportunity to engage other resources if time is of the essence.

“PH Connect Queued Messaging has been so helpful for me as a care advisor. Many times, I would go into PH Connect after hours to send notes to providers to find them unavailable. I would then have to create a reminder to go back into PH Connect the next day, to send the message during the providers’ available time. With Queued Messaging, I save so much time. I love it!” expressed Emily Temple, Care Advisor, WKCC.