(From the Winter 2013 issue of Everything Matters: Inside Nationwide Children's)
Gil Peri, MPH, MBA, Vice President, Regional Development
As health care technology and expertise evolves, health systems around the country are creating innovative ways to provide convenient care for their patients. Children’s hospitals often have responsibility for rural communities that may not have immediate access to local pediatric specialists. Community pediatricians and patients benefit from receiving care close to home. Barriers such as transportation, taking time off from work and missing school often impact a patient and his or her family’s ability to receive timely care and follow-up.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital has developed an extensive outreach program that extends our pediatric expertise to the communities in which we serve. Our vision that no child should have to leave central Ohio to receive the best pediatric care in the country is realized each day when physicians and staff provide care in regional communities. Nationwide Children’s continually conducts assessments to understand the needs of the community. Regional hospitals look to Nationwide Children’s to support and enhance care in their communities. Nationwide Children’s has partnered with regional adult hospitals by providing education and screening services, outpatient clinics, neonatal support and more. These outpatient clinics include cardiology, endocrinology, genetics, hematology/oncology, urology, sports medicine, plastics, pediatric surgery, ENT, neurology, gastroenterology and behavioral health. The clinics provide patients an opportunity to receive initial evaluations and follow-up visits at a convenient location close to home. Regional sites include Mansfield, Ironton, Springfield and Lima. Nationwide Children’s is also developing virtual clinic offerings via telemedicine. The goal is to provide high quality patient visits through the use of technology.
Nationwide Children’s Close To HomeSM facilities offer urgent care, outpatient clinics, sports medicine, clinical therapies, radiology and lab services. In 2012, Nationwide Children’s also opened both the Westerville Surgery Center and the Dublin Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center. In 2011, Nationwide Children’s provided over 973,000 outpatient visits. The hospital continues to recruit the nation’s best medical and surgical specialists. Community pediatricians have the opportunity to consult with specialists through a consultation line called Physicians Direct Connect (PDC) at (614) 355-0221. The PDC is staffed with nurses 24/7 and connects community physicians to a specialist within five minutes of calling. This service has been very well-received and has enabled specialists at Nationwide Children’s to provide high quality phone consults in an effective and efficient manner.
Wellness and prevention are key priorities in the organization’s strategic plan. Prevention programs that include diabetes, obesity and asthma enable Nationwide Children’s to proactively improve the health of the children we serve. We partner with other community organizations to meet that goal. Initiatives such as interactive community health fairs, seminars and interactive learning sessions allow the hospital to address key healthy behaviors early in childhood.
Sports medicine is another component of the Nationwide Children’s outreach strategy. The sports medicine program works with local schools to provide athletic training and physician support services. Nationwide Children’s trainers and physicians work with the student athletes to prevent, diagnose and treat injuries. They provide services at three locations including the hospital’s main campus and in Westerville and Dublin. Nationwide Children’s is the only pediatric hospital in the country that has two dedicated sports medicine facilities to serve the community. The interdisciplinary approach includes sports medicine physicians, athletic trainers, physical therapists, dieticians, educators and orthopedic surgeons. The team works together to help the student athlete get back to the classroom and back on the playing field. Preventing and treating concussions has become an increased focus. Nationwide Children’s diagnoses and treats more concussions than any other pediatric institution in Ohio.
Nationwide Children’s has developed a nationally recognized Physician Liaison Program that serves as a link between referring physicians and the hospital. The liaisons visit more than 1,000 physicians in a 38-county service area. Each quarter, the team takes 15-20 specialists into the field to meet referring physicians. Nationwide Children’s physician liaisons provide community physicians with the latest information about services while resolving any issues that may arise. A community physician in Lancaster, Ohio shared, “I rely on my physician liaison to keep me in the loop about the new services being offered at Nationwide Children’s. The hospital is recruiting so many specialists and is growing so rapidly, it’s hard to keep track of all the exciting changes. I can also always rely on her to help me resolve any problems and I consider her an extension of my practice.” The program provides the community with a single contact for information and resources that enhance patient care. As an extension of the liaison program, Nationwide Children’s neonatologists visit regional hospitals on a monthly basis as part of the Neonatology Ambassador Program. The neonatologist conducts rounds in the hospital nursery, provides an education symposium to the clinical team and is available to consult on protocols and other areas of need. This initiative has been well-received and creates a bridge for communication and facilitates seamless patient care.
Nationwide Children’s also works with community physicians to gain access to secure patient information via an easy-to-use online web portal called CareLink. The referring physician can access the patient’s Epic electronic health record including clinical notes, after-visit summaries, lab and radiology reports and more. Community physicians appreciate the secure and easy access to their patients’ information. It provides timely information for informed clinical decision-making. The evolution of technology will enable community physicians to interact with specialists in a more seamless manner. Nationwide Children’s has plans to expand telemedicine initiatives which currently include nursery consultation via video telemedicine and patient consults with specialists.
Nationwide Children’s is committed to providing a seamless patient experience and the best medical outcomes for our patients. As the hospital continues to grow and to provide new clinical services, the outreach model will provide referring physicians and their patients and families with easy access to our pediatric experts.