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Glendale Adventist Medical Center, one of 19 Adventist Health hospitals, has a well-established reputation for meeting the needs of employers in the greater Los Angeles area. It is affiliated with the Adventist Health Physicians Network, which supports urgent care and rural clinics, family practices and numerous medical specialties.
The hospital’s occupational medicine program serves local industry, educational institutions, public entities and utilities via a dedicated clinic in Glendale, Calif., and two mobile medical units: one for medical surveillance exams and the other for audiometric testing. Leveraging a grant, the Glendale Adventist Occupational Medicine program will soon be deploying a third, custom-built mobile unit to provide wellness services to employers, college students and other community members.
The occupational medicine staff was accustomed to using specialized software to support clinic operations while the mobile medical program remained on a manual record-keeping system. However, that model changed when UL Workplace Health and Safety phased out the clinic’s StolaSystem software and the operation was transitioned to UL’s comprehensive SYSTOC occupational health management solution in 2012.
With SYSTOC came the opportunity to implement electronic medical records on the road and create a vehicle for secure data interchange between mobile and base operations. The mobile medical team was skeptical about the proposed change for a number of reasons:
“In the beginning, I don’t think anybody really believed we would be able to do what we are doing today with electronic records in a mobile environment,” said Judy Van Houten, R.N., occupational medicine program director.
As it turned out, there was time for mobile medical staff to adapt to the conversion from paper to paperless recordkeeping. Because surveillance exams are periodic, the team decided to convert paper charts to electronic records for individuals in conjunction with their next scheduled exam.
“The transition to electronic records is still occurring in the sense that we didn’t go back and scan medical records into a patient’s account prior to their next visit to the mobile unit,” Van Houten said.
The paper charts are archived in accordance with hospital protocols and Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements.
“SYSTOC is used in our mobile environment the same way it is used in a clinical environment,” said John Ober, mobile medical manager. “We connect to the medical center via a wireless connection.
“The implementation of SYSTOC into our mobile operations has allowed us to eliminate the transfer of charts and forms from the clinic to the mobile unit. All of the forms we use – including commercial driver exam forms – are readily available.”
Overall, the mobile program creates a win-win scenario: the medical team can focus on providing the best possible care while employees and employers benefit from the convenience of onsite service delivery.
As Ober notes, “imagine how disruptive it would be if 30 or 40 employees had to leave work and travel to and from the clinic on a single day? And if you have literally hundreds of people whose exams will come due over a period of months, you also can imagine how time-consuming it is to track them without an automated system. Now when we are scheduling annual exams I can look at the electronic records and easily roll clients over into similar date and time slots for the next year.”
Next steps include plans to use Glendale Adventist’s new mobile wellness unit as an on-campus adjunct to the student health center at Woodbury University in Burbank, Calif., at least twice a month and grow from there. In the meantime, the medical surveillance unit will be used as a backup.
Ultimately, having the ability to deliver medical surveillance and wellness services where people work will help employers shift their focus from disease management to disease prevention. “We want to show them how they can lower costs and improve well-being through services designed specifically for their employee population,” Van Houten said.