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Tina Drago testimonial

Connecting Across the Divide: How a trailblazer’s use of health information technology is putting a different kind of spotlight on Las Vegas Healthcare

tina-drago-circle-webA winner of the 2014 Distinguished Nevadan in Healthcare award, Tina (Alicea) Drago is no stranger to cutting-edge technology. Long before her current role as CEO of First Person Care Clinics in Las Vegas, she started the International Aircraft Support Group, a defense contractor focused on military preparedness and technology integration. 

Drago eventually focused on healthcare, and quickly recognized the lack of quality primary care and preventative community health centers in Las Vegas, especially for the most vulnerable population—the medically underserved, uninsured and underinsured. She seized the opportunity to create a business that would reshape healthcare on a local level while putting it in a national spotlight by leaping to the forefront of technology. 

Drago recognized the need for health information technology integration in order to be successful in her goals to be efficient, paperless and technology-driven. She turned to HealtHIE Nevada. “Having HIE as part of our organization was a must and should be for any business opening its doors in the medical field,” she says. 

Drago entered the healthcare arena with the opening of First Person Care Clinics Community Health and Wellness Center in 2013, presenting something new to Nevada—full bi-directional integration of health information technology in a clinic. “We built the clinic knowing we were going to be technologically advanced,” she says. 

First Person Care Clinic became the first to be bi-directionally integrated with hospitals, labs and imaging centers throughout the entire state. This technological milestone was a first in the country, making First Person Care Clinic a healthcare leader even before it reached its first anniversary. The cost-effective model is even more impressive when considering their downtown Las Vegas location, where 68 percent of the residents fall below the 200 percent poverty level. “It really doesn’t get much sweeter than when you’re working with a very, very limited budget as a community health center, and able to offer high levels of quality care,” Drago says. 

First Person offers HealtHIE Nevada’s accurate, real-time health information sharing to all their patients, allowing their care to be seamlessly integrated with technology. To Drago, access and sharing of timely patient information should be a primary concern for any provider. “If the patient’s information is out there, it is 100 percent the provider’s responsibility to get it.”

Via the HealtHIE Nevada interface, First Person’s providers are alerted to such important care events as a patient entering an emergency room, their discharge from a hospital, prescribed medications, or lab tests and x-rays. These alerts allow their providers to pro-actively contact the patient to assist in follow-up care, avoid unnecessary redundant tests, or avoid adverse drug events—all at cost-effective pricing. 

Not surprisingly, the integration of HealtHIE Nevada’s technology is a primary step for First Person patients. “The first thing we do with all of our patients is go to the HIE. We gather all the possible information available concerning our patient and their previous providers,” Drago says. “This allows our providers a snapshot consultation of the patient before we begin talking to the patient.  Imagine the patient’s response when the provider has already done their homework.”

Drago is confident in the obvious advantages outweighing any concerns of consent, making it part of First Person’s intake process. “I have not had one person say no,” says Drago. “Most patients want to share their information, but can’t remember all the details and frankly, get embarrassed.”

First Person Care Clinics’ adoption of HIE technology is helping to put Nevada healthcare back on the map, but in a positive light. “Nevada is very special because it’s the only state in the entire country where the information is shared statewide,” Drago says. “It gives us a technology leap that nobody can touch.”

When asked how First Person’s patients have reacted to the benefits of HealtHIE Nevada, Drago beams. “It makes them feel like they’re a priority,” she says. “It’s the number one customer-friendly thing we do.”