One of the smallest facilities in HIMSS Analytics' ranking of highly digital hospitals, Gila Regional Medical Center demonstrates how effective management can propel an institution forward. For years, the 68-bed, stand-alone community hospital was mired at Stage 3 on the HIMSS Analytics ladder--but not for lack of potential.

The hospital had licensed a large number of modules from its core vendor, Meditech, back in 1995. "We had not optimized the system," says CIO David Furnas, who began the turnaround shortly after coming on board in December 2005. Furnas helped craft a strategic plan which called for Gila Regional to be a Stage 7 hospital by 2012.

Furnas will be among the featured speakers at Health Data Management's Health IT Summit, Nov. 14-16 in Chicago. For more information, click here.

Certified as a Stage 6 hospital in October 2009, Gila Regional is on target to meet its goal, Furnas says. "It could slip to 2013, but it won't slip a great deal if it does," he says. "The technology is the easiest part of all of this. It's off the shelf. The challenge is human."

Gila Regional is still rolling out CPOE among its various medical specialties, with labor and delivery on the horizon. Currently about 15 percent of all orders all placed electronically, but Furnas is confident that number will grow. The hospital is using clinical support software from Zynx, but building trust among the medical staff is the critical aspect of the project, Furnas says.

To that end, Furnas' department is working with additional physician volunteers to build new order sets. "We work with them on testing prior to deployment, building relationships of trust and respect," he says. "When you look at people-process-technology, people are the most important part."

--Gary Baldwin


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