Following is a profile of Stephen Beck, one of the winners in the 2013 EHR Game Changer recognition program sponsored by Health Data Management. For information about this year's program, click here.

When it comes to EHR deployments, Catholic Health Partners defines big. Spanning 24 hospitals in Ohio and neighboring states, the Cincinnati-based health system began an enterprise rollout in early 2010 with the ambitious goal of a five-year completion. A key player in the effort is Stephen Beck, M.D., charged with not only promoting adoption of the EHR among physicians and other providers, but guiding the overall strategy for improved clinical outcomes. He leads a team of nine clinical staff who participate in the design, build and deployment of clinical I.T. Currently, half the hospitals in the health system have gone live with the EHR, from Epic, on the inpatient side, while all 1,000 physicians employed by the health system have adopted the technology on the ambulatory side.

The Epic EHR replaces a mix of paper-based and electronic systems. When complete, Catholic Health Partners will have a common patient record across all its sites, drawing from a single database and built around common workflows, Beck says. He points to the emerging era of accountable care as underscoring the need for a common system. "It's important to have a common record as patients go from site to site," he says.

Catholic Health Partners has established some ambitious goals for its clinical staff. "We expect 85 percent of all orders to be entered electronically by physicians," Beck says. And most hospitals on the inpatient system have hit that mark, he says, with the others close to it. The key, Beck says, is ongoing training and promotion of the ideal of physician-driven quality. "We want physicians to understand that when they're in control and entering orders, it eliminates the risk of inappropriately translated written orders from paper or confusing about orders given over the phone," he says.

Two big factors have helped drive physician adoption of CPOE, he says: standardized order sets and embedded clinical decision support tools Beck's team has added to the system.

The presence of standardized order sets has enabled the health system to dial down its usage of order alerts, or messages firing off to clinicians about to request lab work, radiology exams, and other procedures. "We want to be cautious about firing off too many alerts," Beck says. "We don't want to overwhelm physicians. We are trying to minimize alert fatigue and yet maximize the gains of using a standardized system."

Clinical decision supports have encouraged physician adoption as well. Catholic Health Partners has embedded a search engine, from Wolters Kluwer Health, that physicians can access from the EHR. Although physicians are free to use their own data resources, having a common clinical search engine is another piece of standardization important to improved outcomes via less variation in practice, Beck says.

Beck acknowledges that an EHR deployment is never finished. But he's optimistic. "In five years, we will have better outcomes, safer cost and improved cost control. We will eliminate redundant and unnecessary tests. When patients realize they are getting the best technology there is to offer, they are happier with their health care."

 

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