UCF Health faculty physicians trained their colleagues on identifying and treating concussions and using electronic health records to keep their senior patients healthier at recent statewide conferences in Orlando.
Dr. Leonardo Oliveira, who specializes in sports medicine and internal medicine at UCF Health, presented continuing medical education training on concussions to about 100 physicians attending the Florida Medical Association’s statewide meeting this month. Dr. Oliveira then joined colleagues Drs. Mariana Dangiolo, who specializes in geriatrics at UCF Health, faculty member Dr. Stephen Berman and Dr. Kathy Hypes, a geriatric nurse practitioner at the VA, at the Florida Geriatric Society in discussing how electronic records improve seniors’ care.
As society becomes more aware of concussions, physicians who are not sports medicine specialists – and rarely see the traumatic head injury – are seeking additional education on how to recognize and property treat the condition, Dr. Oliveira said. Today, medicine has identified a specific protocol for athletes and others who suffer a concussion. The protocol includes rest and refraining from physical and mental activities – including computer use and video games – while the mind heals. The protocol for student athletes also requires evaluation of the individual’s pre-season cognitive state so physicians have a baseline for comparing those factors after a head injury. States also have passed laws on how suspected concussions must be handled in student athletes.
“A key thing we emphasize is that if you suspect a concussion, the player absolutely needs to come out of the game,” Dr. Oliveira said. He added that many physicians who took his session did not traditionally treat athletes or have previous experiences with head injuries. Because of the new laws and protocols, he said they were eager to learn the latest on concussion treatment and evaluation. “There is certainly more awareness about the dangers of concussions, repeat concussions, and repeat blows to the head,” he said. “I think things have definitely changed. People are more cautious and are willing to listen.”
The Florida Geriatric Society held its annual meeting in Orlando to coincide with the FMA event. Dr. Dangiolo, a board member at large of the society, and Dr. Stephen Berman, a College of Medicine neurologist, joined in discussing the use of electronic records in the care of seniors. More physicians are adopted electronic records as a way to improve and coordinate care, communicate with patients and participate in the Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs. The three College of Medicine physicians, who are all trained in using electronic records, talked about how computerized information helps the elderly, especially those with multiple health issues.
Dr. Dangiolo emphasized that electronic records improve communications among providers, especially as seniors transition from different care settings, such as home, the emergency room and assisted living or rehabilitation centers. Electronic records also help multiple physicians track lab results and other assessments for cognitive ability, depression and functional lifestyle skills. Dr Dangiolo shared with physicians computerized geriatric templates she has created to teach geriatrics at the medical school and to help organize complex patient information for easy retrieval. She is currently testing the templates through UCF Health’s electronic health record system.
She explained how electronic records also help eliminate errors. Electronic prescriptions decrease handwriting errors and misread prescriptions. Electronic systems also can generate warnings if physicians prescribe drugs that can cause harm when mixed – a protection especially important when multiple physicians are prescribing.
As UCF Health’s director of quality, Dr. Oliveira leads the College of Medicine’s practice in adopting the meaningful use of electronic records. He discussed how physicians must understand their electronic system to complete the appropriate workflow and quality steps to impact reimbursements. His advice to physicians with little experience in computerized records: “Keep an open mind. There are multiple ways to complete the same function and achieve the best process for the physician and practice and positively impact the patient.”
Switching from paper to electronic records is a timely and complicated process. Dr. Berman presented results from a paper the College of Medicine did with UCF’s medical informatics group on implementing such a process. His talk, “Entering the Promised Land of the EHR: The Blessings and The Curses” recommended several ways physicians can be successful in the switch – including carefully choosing a system that includes good training, allotting enough time for the transition, using templates like those developed at the medical school, and educating patients how they can navigate the electronic system.