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— Nancy Girard, DO, Family Medicine
Family Care Physicians and Children’s Preferred Care Pediatrics and Family Medicine are located outside Trenton, New Jersey, a medically underserved area. The combined practices have an active case load of approximately 9,000 patients, and handle about 12,000 visits per year at both locations.
In 2010, Dr. Shankar Santhanam saw a 65-year old male smoker. Although there were no bruits or palpable masses during his abdominal exam, the Amazing Charts EHR system, which includes USPSTF and CDC guidelines, reminded Dr. Santhanam that screening for an abdominal aneurysm is currently recommended for this population.
Dr. Santhanam urged his patient to get an abdominal ultrasound based on the evidenced-based recommendation from the Amazing Charts EHR system. The subsequent ultrasound revealed a large abdominal aortic aneurysm, and further diagnostic testing found bilateral iliac artery aneurysms, as well as a thoracic aneurysm.
The patient underwent a series of operations to have the damaged tissue repaired. Without these procedures, the patient had a high risk of the rupture and sudden death. Thanks to the latest health maintenance guidelines incorporated into Amazing Charts, Dr. Santhanam felt he was reminded at the point of care to recommend testing that ultimately proved critical for this patient.
The medical practices co-owned by Dr. Shankar Santhanam and his uncle, Dr. Puthenmadam Radhakrishnan, are truly a “family business.” Dr. Radhakrishnan maintains a pediatric presence at both offices, while Dr. Santhanam runs the family medicine presence.
“I grew up with my uncle’s pediatric practice nearby, and I started helping him with billing and other office tasks during the summers when I was in college,” recalls Dr. Santhanam. “By observing my uncle, I saw how doctors can have a caring attitude towards their patients and a tremendous impact on their health. This inspired me to change my major and go to medical school.”
After earning his Medical Degree and while he was still in residency, Dr. Santhanam’s uncle asked him to help evaluate an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system called Amazing Charts. Dr. Radhakrishnan had selected Amazing Charts for its superior usability ratings and affordability.
“I agreed the program was perfect for his primary care practice, so I encouraged him to download the software and give it a try for free,” says Dr. Santhanam. “This was in 2003, before many physicians were even thinking about EHRs. I helped install and set up the software. Implementation was simple and straightforward.”
Dr. Santhanam started using Amazing Charts to document patient visits on his first day after residency. “When I joined the practice in 2005, my uncle had already been using Amazing Charts for two years,” he explains. “My uncle was very satisfied, so it just made sense for me to continue using this incredibly affordable and very easy to use program.”
Today, Dr. Santhanam’s family practice uses Amazing Charts to handle a wide variety of tasks, from charting patient visits and phone calls, to ePrescribing and scheduling. The entire staff, including front desk personnel, nurse assistants, an office manager, and back-office staff – uses Amazing Charts for intra-office communications.
“We generate all of our billing using Amazing Charts, and then we send the invoices and CMS 1500s to a third-party biller who gives us a great rate because we signed up though Amazing Charts,” he states. “The EHR also interfaces to our main laboratory company, LabCorp, so all my patient reports go directly into Amazing Charts for easy reference.”
Amazing Charts includes USPSTF, CDC, and other health maintenance guidelines to remind physicians of current and up-to-date preventative care recommendations at the point of care. This automatic health maintenance guidance played a key role when Dr. Santhanam performed a standard physical examination on a 65 year old man in late 2010.
The patient had hypertension and was an active smoker. Aware of the patient’s risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm, Dr. Santhanam performed an abdominal exam, but did not detect anything that would raise his suspicion. Based on the patient’s risk factors, however, the Amazing Charts EHR recommended the patient be additionally screened to rule-out an abdominal aneurysm.
“Amazing Charts popped up a reminder to check for abdominal aneurysm based on his history. Although I could not palpate a mass or note any unusual bruits on exam, the risk-factor reminder tilted my decision making, and I ordered an ultrasound and told him to get it done immediately,” recalls Dr. Santhanam. “They found a large aortic abdominal aneurysms and bilateral iliac aneurysms in his legs. It was a very serious situation, and his life was literally on the line.”
Between 2010 and 2011, he underwent multiple surgeries and further testing during these procedures also found a thoracic aneurysm and multi-vessel heart disease. The patient ended up undergoing iliac artery coil embolizations, abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurym repairs, CABG x3, and a pacemaker placement for Type II Mobitz Heart block.
The surgeries were successful and the patient is currently recovering under the care of Dr. Santhanam.
“My patient knows that Amazing Charts played a key role in saving his life,” remarks Dr. Santhanam. “I actually showed him the health maintenance recommendations in the program, and he was incredibly grateful that I was using Amazing Charts.”
Dr. Santhanam concludes: “The managed healthcare system imposed by insurers and other payers limits the amount of time physicians can spend with our patients. In our haste to get patients in and out of exam rooms, it can be challenging to remember everything at the point of care. Amazing Charts reminds us of evidenced-based best practices and ensures that we are vigilant in following the latest life-saving health maintenance guidelines.”