For physician practices particularly, one conundrum of switching to an electronic health record is what to do with their backlog of data. Should it all be put into the new system, or just some? And should it be put in after the switchover or before?
Reliant Medical Group, Worcester, Mass. (formerly the Fallon Clinic), found big dividends by putting in 15 years worth of its data before its EHR went live. At HIMSS 12 in Los Vegas, Larry Garber, M.D., medical director for informatics, will describe the organization's roadmap to maximal benefit from its EHR.
Reliant was recognized with a Davies Award for ambulatory care in 2011 because of its effective EHR use. The 357-provider practice spent $24 million on its system, but has saved $20 million in administrative, staffing, and IT support costs since going live in 2005--not including incentive payments for meaningful use, which the vast majority of its providers have qualified for. The EHR helps Reliant far exceed national averages on diabetes monitoring, childhood immunizations and cancer screening. The practice has also used the system to improve patient safety: for example, it has decreased by 30 percent the number of patients who have critically abnormal blood-thinner levels.
Garber says the organization had a jump on the data backlog problem because it had already been storing notes and lab results in an electronic database, but mapping the old data into the new system still took a year. "In the end, it was well worth it," he adds. Much of it ended up as discrete data, which means it can be easily analyzed for quality measurement and improvement.
The practice's work was far from done after the EHR went live, and Garber will talk about the ongoing monitoring that ensures effective use. One recommendation: Listen closely to "complaints," which are actually opportunities to improve the system for the benefit of all users.
The session, “How to Implement an EHR and HIE that Actually Improves Quality, Safety, Efficiency and Service” is scheduled on Feb. 22 at 1:00 p.m.
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