Our Projects

Epic Solution Benefits Mothers and Babies

Epic Solution Benefits Mothers and Babies

Angela Mitchell’s solution to a longtime problem isn’t just innovative.

It’s Epic.

Mitchell is the Multi-Practice Manager at Riverside Partners in Women’s Health for Riverside Medical Group’s Warwick location. Other locations in the service line are in the Oyster Point section of Newport News, Gloucester, Williamsburg and Hampton.

Riverside Partners in Women’s Health offers compassionate care in a female-centered environment and caters to expectant mothers, many of whom must be referred to local specialty Maternal-Fetal Medicine practice because of high risk factors related to their pregnancy. These can range from an elevated BMI to diabetes to a suspected genetic disorder.

Maternal-fetal medicine specialists receive traditional training in obstetrics and gynecology and three years of additional education to learn how to treat medical complications related to pregnancy.

Time is of the essence when referrals are made yet the wait between referrals and eventual appointments previously extended two weeks or more, a frustrating delay that caused Mitchell to examine the process in search of a solution.

“We were spending 30 to 40 minutes per patient at times faxing records, some of them as long as 40 pages, trying to set up a referral,” she said.

Riverside Partners in Women’s Health typically refers between 200 and 250 patients per month to Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

Both practices rely on Epic, the preferred electronic medical record system that allows one chart to follow patients throughout their care. Mitchell consulted with Riverside’s Referral Team and connected with staff at Maternal-Fetal Medicine to work toward a more streamlined process for both parties that would ultimately benefit the expectant mom and baby.

“We created a work flow for everyone to use by entering an outgoing referral in Epic from our facility and ensuring they could see it on their end,” Mitchell said.

Both practices tested the program for efficiency and saw immediate improvement. Instead of weeks, referred patients received appointments within two to three days. That wait time for an appointment has since been reduced to same day as the referral is received in many cases. Maternal-Fetal Medicine created a referral coordinator position specifically to manage the volume of requests.

Early prenatal care improves the pregnancy, delivery and birth process, particularly for high risk expectant moms, and leads to a healthier baby.

“There’s a huge difference in a diabetic patient who is pregnant, for example,” Mitchell said. “For those patients, receiving diabetes education really early is critical because if the diabetes become uncontrolled, it can be very dangerous to both mom and baby.”

Patients needing a more extensive ultrasound due to an elevated BMI or other complications or any expectant mom needing a fetal echo must be seen by Maternal-Fetal Medicine as Riverside Partners in Women’s Health does not offer those services.

“Our physicians need those results quickly so they can create a treatment plan for the patient going forward in their pregnancy,” Mitchell said.

Both practices also connect regularly using Epic’s chat feature rather than relying on phone calls and fax requests.

Mitchell and the group are currently exploring ways to incorporate the results of the procedures performed at Maternal-Fetal Medicine in real time so Riverside physicians gain immediate access to those.

“E-referral has been so helpful,” Mitchell said. “Everybody benefits, and most importantly, our patients are able to get the care they needed sooner.”