Akron Children’s Hospital is seeing results from its multimillion dollar investment in information technology.
The pediatric hospital recently was ranked among the top hospitals nationwide for electronic medical record implementation.
HIMSS Analytics, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, recently notified Children’s that it has achieved the second-highest level (Stage 6) on its seven-stage EMR Adoption Model Scale.
As of the end of 2012, about 440 hospitals nationwide had achieved the designation, according to Children’s. The achievement puts Akron Children’s in the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide.
The pediatric hospital has invested more than $50 million in its electronic medical records system, called Epic, which went into operation facility-wide last summer.
By having patients’ important medical data stored electronically instead of on paper charts, doctors, nurses and other health-care providers can have instant access to the information, said Tom Ogg, hospital vice president and chief information officer.
“You have to have systems like this today,” said Ogg.
After the system went live, the hospital held an “Epic Wins” contest to encourage staff members to tell how the electronic medical records helped them in their jobs, Ogg said. Numerous people shared how the system saved them time and helped them take better care of their patients.
Several doctors said they liked having the ability to access their patients’ medical records remotely.
“I needed to put in orders for a patient before arriving at work. Instead of giving verbal orders, I saved time by entering in the orders via our remote access — what a great benefit,” wrote Dr. Nimisha Jain, a pediatric hospitalist at Children’s.
“By using the remote access utility, I am able to review patient labs in Epic, order tests, communicate within the real medical record with my partners and staff and even approve refills and order new medications,” agreed Dr. Bruce Cohen, director of the Division of Neurology.
Rita Vitale, a registered nurse in the neonatal intensive care unit, shared that the new system saves her time because she doesn’t have to hunt down paper charts.
“I like having orders and progress notes readily available to read ... and I mean all notes — doctors’, nurse practitioners’, all kinds of therapists’ — right from my computer,” she said. “I love the legibility of print that Epic brings. I can now read every single word.”
Hospitals can receive millions of dollars in federal incentives for meeting initial goals for adopting computerized health records. The incentives were established in 2009 by the federal stimulus bill to encourage the adoption of electronic health records.
To qualify for the payments through Medicare and Medicaid, hospitals and doctors must attest that they have installed and started using a certified system.
As a pediatric hospital, Akron Children’s gets incentives through Medicaid, which covers poor children. The hospital expects to receive a total of $5 million from the federal incentive program through 2014 to help offset the cost of electronic medical record implementation, according to Ogg.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.