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Reimagined EMR supports patient-centric care for future-forward clinic

Catching up with Dr. Panagiotis Galanopoulos isn’t easy. The owner and lead physician at Blue Water Medical Clinic in Vancouver covers a lot of ground throughout his day. He may be seeing patients in his office or virtually; you might even find him making house calls, or at an assisted living facility with the medical residents he mentors. 

A former Chief Medical Officer with Pennyroyal Healthcare Services in Princeton, Kentucky, Dr. Galanopoulos opened Blue Water Medical Clinic in 2017, a state-of-the-art clinic providing longitudinal acute and chronic care to patients of all ages. 

“My vision for my clinic was to have a place that felt like a medical home, with as much technology as needed to help our patients,” he says. “In the U.S., we had access to 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure machines and equipment for pulmonary function tests, so I added them here.”

Having vetted approximately 20 electronic medical record (EMR) systems in his previous position, Dr. Galanopoulos knew exactly what he was looking for in an EMR. “We need ease of use for providers and front staff, with access to information in as few clicks as possible. We want to get the maximum amount of ability out of our EMR while containing that cost.” 

He chose the TELUS Collaborative Health Record (formerly InputHealth) “because I could see that it is forward-thinking and always innovating.” 

Full EMR functionality and more – built right in.

An all-in-one solution, the Collaborative Health Record (CHR) offers traditional EMR functionality such as scheduling, billing, labs, encounter notes and more, but it also has built-in tools for patient engagement, streamlined documentation, automation and data optimization – all customizable for any clinic workflow.

“The CHR can easily adapt for your clinic in any way you like,” says Dr. Galanopoulos. “Plus, it’s nice to look at. The user interface – colour, sizes, everything can be customized. When onboarding new staff members, they are very comfortable with it within a day.”

Engaging patients in their own care.

With patient engagement at its core, the CHR allows patients to take an active role in their care so they feel like they’re part of the process. The clinic’s practitioners take full advantage of the many opportunities to involve their patients such as eBooking, automated reminders – which has significantly decreased no-shows, encrypted messaging, virtual visits, and customizable questionnaires. 

“The questionnaires give our patients the power to think about their answers and comfortably complete the forms at home. They don’t feel like they’re being put on the spot,” says Dr. Galanopoulos. “I also like that the questionnaires are templates. You can ask exactly what you want, how you want it.” 

Data from the patient-submitted forms is auto-populated into relevant encounter sections, which saves administration time and allows the clinician to focus on patient care – instead of paperwork. “You get to have that data before you even start the visit, and that’s very powerful.”

Additionally, questionnaires can be used for follow-up care and patient assessment. “Let’s say someone has depression. We can schedule a questionnaire to be sent that essentially asks how the patient is feeling. Then, we look at the values and if we’re concerned about something, we can create an interaction and check in with the patient that way.”

Full power of the CHR is accessible from anywhere.

The fact that the CHR is a cloud-based platform means that it can keep up with the Blue Water Medical team no matter where they are – or what is thrown at them. When COVID forced us to transition to virtual care, my practitioners were able to start serving patients from home the very next day. Everyone had access to the full power of our CHR right from their browsers – there is no special VPN required or code to punch in.”

For Dr. Galanopoulos, the inherent flexibility of the CHR is critical to his model of care delivery. “For example, if I’m at an assisted-living facility, I have my laptop and EMR open, and I can do everything in real time with my patients. No matter where I am – at a facility, at home, in my car – that ease of use has been wonderful.”

High-quality data powers informed care.

Health care is all about data – but information can go to waste if it can’t be extracted and utilized in meaningful ways. Through intelligent dashboards, the CHR provides high-quality, structured health information that can be collected for purposeful use – both at a level of the individual patient as well as at higher levels to understand populations and help a practice evolve. 

“Recently, I wanted to know how many patients in my practice were on a certain medication. It was easy. I have 6,000 patients, and I had the list in seconds,” says Dr. Galanopoulos. “You just can’t do that when you’re working with paper charts.”

He is also excited about the analytics from a quality improvement standpoint. “I feel like it’s going to give us a lot of information that we can use. I have a lot of young learners – nurse practitioner students and medical residents – at my clinic who do quality improvement projects. With the CHR, we can mine that data on our own, which means we can keep working on getting better and better.”

Dream of population health begins to take shape.

As a physician lead for his local Primary Care Network, Dr. Galanopoulos is encouraged about the potential for improving access to care using a team-based approach. “For years, I have had this dream of population health. What’s really exciting for me is that with the Primary Care Network, we may actually be able to get there sooner than later.”

He stresses that the ideal scenario is for all EMRs to be able to talk to each other so certain data such as patient medication lists or past medical history can be shared. “To be able to move forward, we’re going to need more interoperability between all partners in health.”

Fortunately, the CHR is built to enable collaborative care between all users with 24/7 access, file sharing, tools for referrals and waitlist management, and the ability to follow the patient along every stage of care. As more partners in health discover the potential of the TELUS Collaborative Health Record to work synergistically on patient health problems, Dr. Galanopoulos’ hopes for connected health care in Canada may be closer than he imagines.  

Panagiotis “Taki” Galanopoulos MD, MSc, CCFP, FAAFP
Blue Water Medical Clinic, Vancouver

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