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Hoag Orthopedic Uses Online Technology to Give Physicians Insight and Track Outcomes

To become more transparent to doctors and patients, Hoag Orthopedic Institute relies on a home-based Web site dubbed “iCarePassport” to achieve better clinical outcomes, said the executive medical director at Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine.

According to Dr. Alan Beyer, who is also an orthopedic surgeon, the iCarePassport system, developed by San Diego-based health IT company Skylight Healthcare Systems, has been pivotal in the institute’s efforts to track patient outcomes, share information between the physicians as well as report outcomes.

First implemented at Hoag Hospital, the system works by inviting patients to join the web portal after they are booked for surgery.

Patients gain access to information on their surgical procedure, such as what to expect, what to do, and how to proceed with physical therapy before and after surgery, as well as other educational materials, Dr. Beyer explained.

Patients are also asked to provide information pre-operatively, such as how many flights of stairs they can climb, which gives physicians a baseline of the patient’s health status.

Post-surgery patients go online to provide information on their medical status every few weeks up to a year. The system reminds patients automatically via email to provide this information.

Dr. Beyer said that the iCarePassport system became even more sophisticated in tracking patient and physician data after the move in November 2010 from the hospital to the institute.

“We started looking at how every physician was doing and compared the data to other physicians,” Dr. Beyer said.

He said that physicians learn from each other that way and work together to optimize outcomes.

For instance, when comparing data, doctors found that the patients of two doctors in particular reported having less pain post-surgery compared to other patients.

The doctors all met and after comparing notes adopted a multi-disciplinary approach that called for anesthesiologists and surgeons to work closely together and adopt a best clinical pathway, he said.

The iCarePassport system was first implemented to track patients undergoing knee and hip replacement surgeries but is now also being used for other surgical patients.

Asked whether the data can be used to reward some physicians for achieving better quality outcomes, Dr. Beyer said he believes that doctors will be paid for providing better outcomes.

“We felt it was important to adopt the system way before it was utilized (by others), and in terms of reimbursement, it will drive how physicians are being paid, and it should,” he said.

He said the data is useful in many ways: The stored data can be used for research purposes and to create better clinical outcomes, engages patients (who can also look at information on the healing process of other surgery patients), reduces revisions, improves cost-effectiveness of orthopedic surgeries, and, by adding to the system, allows for tracking more vital data.

To view the original Physician News Network article, please click here.