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The Importance of Tracking Patients During COVID-19

How local companies are making sure patients get the Coronavirus testing they need.
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Community spread of COVID-19 in Texas has made primary care physicians the front lines in the fight against the virus, and North-Texas based Catalyst Health Network is working with Clinical Pathology Laboratories and LeadingReach to make testing efficient, safe, and effective. With a limited number of tests, locations, and protective equipment, providers are having to be absolutely sure patients need to be tested for the virus before sending them to a testing site, as they could be quickly overwhelmed by the public.

The three organizations have created a streamlined referral process for potential COVID-19 patients that will match patients with the most appropriate care setting, considering their insurance, location, and health needs. Catalyst also has a call center where patients can call in to get more information about the virus.

Too often, providers communicating with labs, specialists, or other providers are using antiquated systems involving fax machines or phone calls that may or may not get answered, but Austin-based LeadingReach allows providers to communicate quickly and efficiently about patients during transitions of care between facilities or providers. The technology allows the limited number of resources to be used efficiently, ensuring that the person who arrives at the testing site is the one being referred by the physicians. It also allows those test results to be communicated back to the referring doctor. This is what LeadingReach CEO Curtis Gattis calls “closing the loop” to digitally track where patients are going, which is all the more essential during a pandemic.

On average, when a physician refers out to another provider, there are six chats back and forth between providers. During those transitions of care, the technology integrates with the electronic health record, allowing providers to direct message questions and information, opening up communication that is often cumbersome with fax machines and telephone calls.

Catalyst is an integrated network of 800 independent physicians, 650 of which are here in North Texas, making the organizations physicians one of the leading groups of physicians to work with patients as potential COVID-19 cases grow. “We have been talking about interoperability for 20 years in this country,” says Catalyst founder Dr. Chris Crow. “LeadingReach is a communication highway and is how we have been managing all the referrals and communicate to other specialists, irrespective to whatever EMR they are on.”

The technology also has a patient engagement platform, so patients can see where they are headed, get information about what to expect during testing, and receive guidance about best practices for staying safe.

While Gattis didn’t foresee LeadingReach being essential to a national crisis, he says that is the beauty of the technology. “It is a great deal to be in a position to help,” he says. “One of the great things about how it is built and designed is that we put it in the hands of people every day who can innovate.”

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