Dr. Ama Tyus
“Patients having access to EMRs is the reality of where medicine is going, and eHealthDC has given us the support to make this adjustment.” – Dr. Ama Tyus
During our conversation with Dr. Tyus, she discussed eHealthDC’s assistance through clinic visits and working side-by-side on program requirements, which allowed her to have an increased focus on her patients. Dr. Tyus explained that her patient population is informed, proactive, and invested in their care, and she characterized them as partners in health. She acknowledged the challenges that primary care providers face and talked about how eHealthDC has supported her and other primary care providers to navigate the PI Program.
You can read more about our conversation with Dr. Tyus’ experience working with eHealthDC.
A Conversation with Dr. Ama Tyus
Q: How has eHealthDC assisted you with health IT and/or HIE? How has that assistance benefited your practice and/or patients?
A: One of the main areas eHealthDC has supported our practice with is the Systems Security Questionnaire. Working in medicine, there are aspects of the privacy and security that you do not always consider on a regular basis, but eHealthDC posed questions that made us think about these areas. Doctors work closely with closely on patient care, and it’s easy to think there are no HIPAA violations, but eHealthDC made me aware of security precautions that we could tighten up.
I think medicine is changing. It’s not just about patient care anymore, it’s about checking boxes. eHealthDC helps establish systems to check those boxes. Reviewing these items has helped us focus on what our goal should be. As a doctor, I must ask about mammograms and other routine questions, and having eHealthDC there to remind us to do it has benefited patient care, even though some of it is just checking boxes.
Our TA has been extremely helpful coming to the clinic since we don’t have the time to talk on the phone to figure things out. The eHealthDC team has been very present and anytime we need them, they’ll come in person to help us walk through items.
Q: How have you found that using health IT and/or HIE tools has benefited your practice and/or patients?
A: Yes, health IT helps us ensure people get mammograms, colonoscopies, and other preventative treatments that we ask every patient for. If people only come here when something is continuously wrong, we don’t get the preventative medicine and screening done. Since we now must focus on it, we provide more mammogram referrals and other preventative measures. If we get more of those, than that is a victory.
Q: What has your experience with the DC Medicaid EHR Incentive Program (MEIP) been like?
A: Patient medical records used to be between the doctor and the patient. Patients having access to EMRs is the reality of where medicine is going, and we need to adjust. eHealthDC has given us the support to make this adjustment. You would be surprised with primary care doctors how much depression, burnout, etc. there is – we work hard because we really care, and to have the support to navigate the challenges is so helpful. Many times, these challenges are left to us to figure out without training, and the eHealthDC program is great.
Q: How do you expect to see your use of health IT and HIE tools to evolve in the future?
A: One of the benefits of Health IT and EMRs is you can see which patients need mammograms, who is up to date with their colonoscopies, or papsmears. A main reason we got our EMR is to understand those needs and follow up. Health IT supports population health to meet patient needs and identify who is up to date and who is not. The reality is we have not gotten there yet because day to day paperwork, education, and taking care of people takes most of our time. That has always been the goal though, to identify who we need to call and follow up with them.
Q: How have you engaged your patients to use their portal?
A: People want to view their labs, people want to make online appointments, and they generally want to know what is going on. Our patients see the win, so there has not been a need for much push. Our office manager tells our patients the portal is available online, and our patients genuinely want to use it. We haven’t had to push it – it just seems to work out and is easy to use. Patients go on, look at their diagnosis. Our patient population is informed. They come here because they want to be well-educated on their health. We have a population of patients that is proactive. When you become a patient here, we are partners in health. Our focus is education and maybe that patient is going to review their notes and review to follow up. We don’t just prescribe a pill to go to the pharmacy and fill your medicine – patients receive a nutritional plan, an exercise plan, a stress reduction plan and that’s all saved in patient notes. If a patient accesses the note, they can view it. Some people don’t remember all the details of their visit and I think that may have something to do with why they use the portal.
Q: Additional comments Dr. Tyus would like to share?
eHealthDC coming to our clinic and not giving up on us has been great. The team is always willing to work with our schedules and that means a lot because our focus is on our patients, not necessarily doing this work. They have been heavily involved, and have stuck with us, and it’s made participating in the program easier.