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NIH and Toiyabe team up

August 20, 2014

Toiyabe Indian Health Project CEO David Lent with NIH CEO Victoria Alexander-Lane at an Aug. 15 meeting where the two discussed ways to combine their efforts to improve healthcare countywide. Photo submitted

Northern Inyo Hospital and Toiyabe Indian Health Project are coordinating their healthcare efforts to ensure that local patients receive the best care possible without unnecessary costs.
Administrators for NIH and TIHP met Aug. 15 to discuss shared goals and challenges in managing healthcare in Inyo County.
NIH CEO Victoria Alexander-Lane said Wednesday that Toiyabe and NIH are planning to develop a county wide communication network for healthcare processionals that will ensure patients don’t receive duplicate services when referred from one organization to the other.
“One of the biggest issues in healthcare today is coordination of care,” Alexander-Lane said. “We don’t want a patient to come to the hospital, get a test and get referred to another doctor who does the same test. We want to make sure you get the right care, at the right time and in the right place. We’re trying to coordinate with all providers in the area.”
Alexander-Lane explained that opening the lines of communication between various healthcare providers could help prevent the duplication of services, which will also reduce the cost of medical care.
“The first thing we have to do is communicate and understand how the other works,” Alexander-Lane said. “Communication is the number one cause of adverse events in almost every industry,” and the healthcare profession is no exception.
As the two organizations move forward with plans to share information to improve services, Alexander-Lane said she and TIHP CEO David Lent are also discussing ways the two healthcare providers can team up to improve services.
She explained that Toiyabe currently operates the only dialysis unit in the Owens Valley, however, that unit does not provide emergency care. At this month’s meeting, Alexander-Lane said she and Lent discussed a telemedicine program that would allow doctors from NIH to provide care for patients in the dialysis unit. Likewise, if a patient is admitted to NIH and requires dialysis, Toiyabe should be able to provide a dialysis unit for use at the hospital.
Currently patients who are in need of both dialysis and hospital care are transported to Glendale.
Being able to provide telemedicine services and prevent patients from having to seek care in Glendale “is not only a huge financial benefit (to both the hospital and the patient) but a huge cultural benefit” as patient’s family members won’t have to travel out of the area, and patients won’t be isolated if their family can’t afford to stay in a hotel to be close to them during treatment.
By pooling resources and communicating, Alexander-Lane said NIH And Toiyabe can also streamline some aspects of healthcare. “We recognize that we have an opportunity to align our computer system so doctors at Toiyabe can get lab results immediately,” she said.
She added that, nationwide, resources to treat mental health treatment are stretched thin, and Toiyabe and NIH hope to be able to work together to meet the needs of the community. “If it goes untreated, mental health issues can become physical health issues,” Alexander-Lane said. “So we’re just trying to bring everybody together.”
She also said that Toiyabe has been invited to participate in daily meetings NIH holds to discuss current patients and their needs.
Alexander-Lane said there is no target date for completing the coordination of services. “We’re really working hard on it, but we don’t want to move too fast or get reckless,” she said, explaining that a strategy for sharing information must be built alongside a strategy for ensuring doctor-patient confidentiality.
Alexander-Lane said that Lent, “is one of the warmest, friendliest people I’ve met, and he’s absolutely wonderful to work with.” With that kind of relationship serving as the cornerstone of the partnership, she said the two organizations are poised to “help the community as a whole remain healthy.”

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