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Lakeland Health revalidates hospitals, clinics to Stage 7 EMRAM

Lakeland Health, a not-for-profit community-owned healthcare system serving southwest Michigan, has revalidated its three hospitals and 15 of its 34 ambulatory clinics to HIMSS Analytics’ Stage 7 Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model.

EMRAM is a methodology for evaluating the progress and impact of electronic health record systems at hospitals, which includes eight stages that measure a hospital’s implementation and utilization of IT to optimize healthcare and the treatment patients receive. Stage 7, a totally paperless records environment, represents the highest EMRAM level.

According to HIMSS, Lakeland in 2013 became the first healthcare organization in Michigan to be certified at Stage 7 in less than three years from the time their Epic EHR was first implemented. This latest EMRAM Stage 7 revalidation recognizes Lakeland’s advanced EHR and real-time analytics capabilities.

“What the HIMSS Stage 7 revalidation signifies is the utilization of technology to maintain a high standard of patient safety and care,” says Robin Sarkar, Lakeland’s chief information officer, who points to the health system’s creation of a radiation safety program to limit exposure, as well as efforts to reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhaging and decrease narcotic prescription rates.

“Lakeland Health’s journey to Stage 7 revalidation introduced several new analytic models to better serve the population of southwest Michigan,” said Philip Bradley, North America regional director for healthcare advisory services and operations at HIMSS Analytics. “Most notably are their protocols on radiation safety, morphine milligram equivalent and OB protocols, all delivering improved care and safety to their community.”

Since Lakeland’s initial Stage 7 certification in 2013, EHR Manager Holly Schewe notes the health system has launched several other new initiatives, including barcode scanning of patients’ blood to ensure accurate patient matching and leveraging barcode technology to track human breast milk in the nurseries for newborns.

“We truly believe that technology is one of the key differentiators, providing actionable insights for our clinicians and providers so that they can improve patient care,” adds Sarkar.

On hospital floors, Schewe points out that Lakeland uses Epic Monitor tied to the EHR for inpatient monitoring of vital signs and other measures, letting clinicians know whose data is trending high or low. “It’s really been helpful to our floor staff in having that real-time conversation with each other at change of shift, looking at this big touchscreen dashboard,” she says.

“It’s an initiative in providing visual real-time information that is updated every two minutes on a screen—similar to what you see in an airport with the latest flight information,” comments Sarkar. “We have used the same principle by rolling out large monitors with touchscreens in nurse stations that can be used to open up patient charts, providing critical information at the point of care.”

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In addition, Sarkar contends that the positive impact of its Epic EHR extends beyond just its hospitals and ambulatory clinics to affiliated community clinics as part of its not-for-profit mission.

“We have extended our EHR, primarily at our own cost, for community purposes and providing transparency of medical records,” he says. “Epic being a slightly more expensive system, it would not be possible for these clinics to themselves get on to the electronic health record. They are getting the benefits of the latest state-of-the-art technology.”

Kenneth Lomonaco, EHR manager at Lakeland, adds that more than 30 clinics are Community Connect practices to which “we’ve extended our instance of Epic to and we subsidize a lot of the cost—as much as we can legally—and they pick up the rest.”

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