Huddle Up: Every Minute Counts in Primary Care

© Sellen | - Doctors and nurses in a medical team stacking

In today’s healthcare environment it is becoming increasingly clear that breakdowns in care coordination have a direct impact both on patients and healthcare providers. The entire practice from administrators to providers must take steps to reduce burdensome paperwork and to optimize the time and quality of the time spent with patients.

One of the most effective and innovative ways that practices are addressing these challenges is through daily huddles. Huddles are short, daily briefings at the beginning of the day in which a small team, such as a Primary Care Provider and a Nurse or Medical Assistant, review the patient list for the day. These short, effective meetings usually last no more than 15 minutes. Huddles enable a team to anticipate patient care needs and potential challenges, so that the entire practice can function smoothly throughout the day.

The most effective huddles involve some preparation in advance. For example, in some clinics a medical assistant “scrubs the charts” or does pre-visit prep work in advance, identifying preventative care gaps, chronic disease management needs, missing labs, or patients with recent hospitalizations. Huddles often result in great improvements for relatively small time investment.

The impact of these effective and organic primary care practices has started to be felt across the larger healthcare space. For example, in the most recent Patient-centered Medical Home Standards patient care meetings, such as daily huddles, are identified as a critical factor in one of their team-based care elements.

In addition, innovative companies like Grand Round Table are listening to practices and looking to shape the EHR to support primary care practices. For example, in preparation for the day ahead, Grand Round Table’s Clinical Assistant automatically delivers a digest briefing to providers which:

  • Identifies patients where decisions on next-steps are needed
  • Reviews results for all tests ordered during the patient’s most recent visit
  • Provides reference links to relevant, patient-centered clinical guidelines
  • Provides care gaps for the care team to address before the patient visit

This technology solution allows administrators and practices to get the most out of their time with patients, save time on non-billable work, achieve better outcomes by following current standards of care, and to collect incentive dollars by meeting Meaningful Use and Patient-Centered Medical Home requirements.

While there has been significant resistance to EHRs over the last few years, the solution is not to abandon healthcare technology entirely to return to paper charting and fax machines. It is only through further refinement of the first-generation of EHR platforms that the significant potential of this technology will be realized. Innovative solutions, such as automatic flagging of high risk patients or those who represent care gaps in the system or linking providers with the latest clinical guidelines, have the power to support and enhance primary care practices and can help to reduce administrative burden and to empower patients and providers.

Want to learn how Grand Round Table's Clinical Assistant can help your practice? Please check out a demo here

Daniel Wasser, MD

Daniel Wasser, MD, is a General Practitioner and Physician Ambassador for Grand Round Table. He is a firm believer that practices must proactively engage with EHR and clinical decision support to ensure that their unique needs are incorporated into the next generation of EHR technology.