Fostering health and wellness

New referral service helps health care providers connect their patients to community, education and wellness programs
July 6, 2016

More than 20 UCHealth programs in northern Colorado help patients live better — and health care providers can now more easily connect their patients to those resources.

HealthyU is a new referral service embedded in Epic, UCHealth’s electronic health record system, which allows providers to refer their patients to lifestyle, community and education programs. Providers do not have to know intricate details — such as insurance requirements — for each program.

“With a focus on population health, our goal is to increase participation and referrals because that means we are doing more to keep people healthy and out of the hospital,” said Jesse Gormley, UCHealth director of Corporate Health and Wellness.

When a provider believes their patient would benefit from additional education or lifestyle programs, such as UCHealth’s Diabetes Prevention Program, the provider places a referral order in Epic under HealthyU.

The order is sent to a HealthyU coordinator who delves into a patient’s individual circumstances and determines the best program(s). The coordinator becomes familiar with the individual, learning about their health concerns and insurance benefits. Think of the HealthyU coordinator as a health services matchmaker.

For example, the provider may select Disease Management and then Diabetes Services in the HeathyU order for a patient at risk for diabetes. The HealthyU coordinator would receive the order and connect the dots. If the patient happened to be an employee of Poudre School District or Columbine Health, for instance, the coordinator would inform the patient of their eligibility for free lifestyle coaching. If the patient has Anthem insurance, the coordinator would also let them know that their coverage may pay for UCHealth’s Diabetes Prevention Program. And the coordinator will facilitate connecting the patient to either program.

“We have all these different teams that provide good programming to help people with lifestyle changes, but many of these programs are not utilized to the extent that they should be because providers, not due to any fault of theirs, don’t know some of the programs exist,” Gormley said. “HealthyU provides easy access to all the resources UCHealth has without the provider having to know about all of them.”

HealthyU coordinators have extensive knowledge of the resources available through UCHealth Community Health Improvement, as well as programs provided by UCHealth Corporate Wellness and other departments, said Laura Dvorak, UCHealth Lifestyle Health Manager, who is helping to coordinate the new service. After determining the best resources for a particular patient, the coordinator will contact that program and provide registration information to the patient.

The coordinators also record their communications in Epic so providers can follow up on their referral requests. Some of the community and wellness programs also log notes in Epic, so the referring providers will be able to track their patients’ participation that way as well.

HealthyU does not replace any existing referrals that are already in place but serves as an additional resource for providers.

“The referral to the HealthyU service is a patient-centered enhancement that provides best-practice navigation to our evidenced-informed UCHealth health and wellness programs in northern Colorado,” said Colette Thompson, director of Community Health Improvement. “The physician and patient benefit by the seamless connection to proven methods that foster health and wellness.”

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.