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The Hospital for Special Surgery is writing off the paper process and the archaic business of faxing in favor of ordering medical equipment directly through a patient's electronic health record, resulting in saved time and resources for clinicians.
HSS has been using software from startup Parachute Health Inc., to order durable medical equipment (DME) such as wheelchairs and walkers for about a year. Christine Carey, manager of clinical applications at HSS, said the technology has not only afforded clinicians a seamless way to order necessary equipment for patients, it has also provided visibility into shipment tracking.
"It's helped our clinicians save time and resources, cuts down on denied claims and it's helped ensure that patients get the equipment they need, resulting in better patient satisfaction," Carey said.
Say goodbye to fax machines
HSS, located in New York City, specializes in orthopedic surgeries and rheumatologic conditions. Carey said before implementing the Parachute Health software, HSS used a significant amount of paper to complete DME orders.
"As a specialty hospital, ordering, billing and medical equipment is a big part [of what we do]," Carey said. "We didn't have an automated way to complete the necessary requirements for filling orders, which caused a break in the process and dissatisfaction for our users, the vendors, the patients."
Because Parachute Health's software is integrated directly into HSS's Epic EHR environment, clinicians can now place DME orders without leaving a patient's EHR. The platform is primarily used by HSS rehabilitation and case management users to order, say, a cane or a wheelchair for a patient. Their orders are sent electronically to insurance companies and medical supply distributors.
"When we first implemented our EHR system, we tried to automate pieces of the DME process as much as possible, but the [EHR system] didn't have a DME module so there was still a lot of paper," Carey said. "Now, there's no paper."
Nurses also requested and were granted read-only access to the platform to check on the status of orders, Carey said. "Shortly after we went live, our nursing team said, 'We want to know what's going on with this stuff,' so we pushed it out to our nursing users as well," she said.
Carey also described the ability to view and track the order and shipment process until it reaches the patient is one of the biggest advantages of the software.
Parachute works to eliminate paper process
Parachute Health aims to simplify medical equipment ordering by eliminating paper forms clinicians typically use to place orders, according to David Gelbard, founder and CEO at Parachute Health.
"What Parachute does is it replaces the paper and fax-based process for an electronic fax," he said. That may seem trivial, but a study by Parachute Health revealed that the error rate on faxed paper documentation is greater than 80%, and 15% of DME orders are either late or never reach the patient.
Gelbard said the technology can help reduce some of the human error that exists in the healthcare industry by providing a more efficient way to keep track of DME orders. The software also works to verify a patient's insurance eligibility to cut back on denied claims, he said.
How healthcare organizations access the platform could differ based on the type of organization, Gelbard said. For smaller practices, clinicians may choose to use Parachute's cloud-based service.
In large, fast-moving acute care settings, Gelbard said Parachute can be integrated into the EHR system to expedite the ordering process. "At Hospital for Special Surgery, it has to be much more baked into the workflow than a small hospital that may not discharge someone for days at a time," he said.
To that end, Parachute Health has partnered with several EHR vendors, including Epic, in an effort to give EHR users seamless access to the service, according to Gelbard. At HSS, Carey said the software was downloaded directly from Epic's App Orchard, an app marketplace for Epic customers. Since the software is embedded directly into HSS' EHR, Carey said users feel like there's "no disruption in their workflow."
Gelbard said that's exactly the point. "You're selecting a product, quickly understanding based off clinical criteria and the EHR whether or not this patient is qualified, then the doctor signs off with a click," he said.
Carey said HSS was the first healthcare organization to use software from Parachute Health. While the software is currently used by HSS case management and rehabilitation users, she said discussions are underway to use the software for all DME orders in the hospital.