Monday Medical: All in the family | SteamboatToday.com

Monday Medical: All in the family

Susan Cunningham For Steamboat Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Being family comes with its benefits. Now that Yampa Valley Medical Center is part of the broader UCHealth family, there are a variety of innovative resources, specialists and services available to local patients, physicians and health care workers.

In the past, tools and services were provided through YVMC's successful membership in the Mayo Clinic Care Network; however, as part of UCHealth, a greater depth of resources is available all within our state.

Grace Taylor, vice president of physician relations and community outreach for UCHealth, highlights a few below.

• Electronic medical records: For patients who are referred to a specialist in Loveland, Denver or even another state, sending medical records to the right place can sometimes be a headache. Soon, a patient at YVMC will have a single, electronic health record.

"A patient seen in Steamboat and referred to another UCHealth physician will have a medical record automatically available to their new care team," Taylor said. "That means a patient can easily travel within our system. Their information is kept up to date and accessible, which is very powerful especially for patients with chronic illness."

The new electronic medical records should be available to patients by May. Additionally, patients will be able to participate in their care online by tracking their test results and medications, messaging their doctor, filling prescriptions and more.

Recommended Stories For You

• Additional subspecialty care: With access to UCHealth's large pool of physicians, there are plans to bring specialists in neurology and pulmonology to the Yampa Valley on a regular basis, another step in keeping care close to home. The larger network of physicians also helps provide coverage when local physicians are on vacation or sick.

• The latest in innovation: YVMC will also benefit from a range of cutting-edge innovations through UCHealth in the future. Potential initiatives include: "Virtual Health" services, which enable specialists to quickly assess patients through a video conference; wearable devices that increase safety and reduce the need for a nurse to frequently check a patient's blood pressure; and virtual reality headsets that will allow patients receiving infusion treatments at UCHealth Jan Bishop Cancer Center to relax by virtually snorkeling in the Caribbean or walking through a European city.

"There is potential for some really great projects," Taylor said. "YVMC already has amazing local services serving its community. What we want to do is listen to providers, staff and leadership in Steamboat, and figure out how to help make it even better."

• The latest in medical knowledge at doctors' fingertips: Through UCHealth, doctors continue to have access to UpToDate, a clinical knowledge database that is widely used among the medical community to access the latest research and care protocols.

Additionally, local physicians can now tap into groundbreaking research and advanced treatments from University of Colorado Hospital providers who are also faculty members at CU School of Medicine. A new, searchable directory of clinical trials available at UCHealth facilities is now available at http://www.uchealth.org/clinical-trials/.

"The landscape of medical knowledge changes so quickly, it's hard for physicians to keep up with every detail in every area," Taylor said. "Especially if a clinical issue arises that they haven't seen before or that isn't in their day-to-day care."

• Accessible phone consults: When a local physician has questions for a specialist, the answer is just a quick phone call away. UCHealth's DocLine service allows physicians to easily contact the right specialist instead of relying on cumbersome lists of phone numbers.

"They can literally pick up the phone, call one number and ask their question," Taylor said.

The service will also assist referring physicians who need to admit patients to YVMC for additional care. Calls are answered by a team of critical-care nurses, who can help with physician connections, transportation details, reports and more, enabling a seamless transition.

The list doesn't end here: additional services and resources are on the horizon, all to help YVMC benefit from the latest in health care.

"YVMC is part of our system – they're family," Taylor said. "So we will continue to ensure they're getting the benefits of the larger system."

Susan Cunningham writes for UCHealthYampa Valley Medical Center. She can be reached at cunninghamsbc@gmail.com.