A secure, online network has been designed to help primary care doctors coordinate care confidentially with behavioral-health providers.
Dr. Albert Puerini, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Primary Care Physician Corp. in Cranston, said the Behavioral Health Network, which was created to serve – at least to start – the patients of 150 primary-care doctors in his company, took two years of research. Already in use through beta testing in October and November, it is expected to fully launch this month, said Noah Benedict, the corporation’s chief operating officer.
The direct-mail messaging technology enables primary care doctors to make referrals securely through a database of credentialed behavioral-health professionals and follow up via email with care for the physician’s patient, said Puerini.
One clinical psychologist who already has seen the benefits of the new system firsthand is Peter Oppenheimer. Based in Barrington, Oppenheimer also is president-elect for the 200-member Rhode Island Psychological Association, and will take over in 2014.
A pediatrician referred two adolescent patients to Oppenheimer, and the psychologist has met with them and begun to coordinate their care with the pediatrician by following up with email updates, instead of having to communicate by letter and phone, both of which are more time-consuming, Oppenheimer said.
“I’ve seen both kids twice, but I sent the doc notes and I will follow up,” he said. “This means when they go to see their pediatrician again, the doc knows what’s happening with the kids.”
Oppenheimer finds the network effective, so far.
“I’m excited,” he said. “It’s a way to try to help us coordinate care efficiently and practically, where the pediatricians and primary care docs work in their office doing what they do, and we do what we do, but we’re able to communicate rapidly via secure email so we can have a give and take that works much better than before. The follow-up communication is a big piece of it.”