Chadron Community Hospital Achieving Big Benefits from EHRs
ANN ARBOR, MI, September 17, 2014 – Implementing an electronic health records system took significant planning and staff involvement at Chadron (Neb.) Community Hospital and Health Services, but the organization now is achieving a range of benefits from digital records.
The Critical Access Hospital has been using its electronic health records (EHR) system for more than three years, achieving Stage 1 of the Meaningful Use program. Even clinicians who were dubious about the EHR system now depend on it, said Anna Turman CHCIO, the hospital’s CIO and COO.
In addition to having hospital records readily available, the system enables providers to gain quick access to other information that’s crucial to giving care. For example, Chadron Community’s system helps clinicians query state records to find immunization information on patients. Also, images from the hospital’s digital radiological system are accessible from the EHR.
Chadron Community’s journey to using EHRs is the subject of a new case study released by the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), an Ann Arbor, Mich.-based professional association. The case study highlights some of the positive accomplishments of IT and CHIME members’ efforts to better serve their communities.
Chadron Community went live with its records system in July 2011, but preparations for the change started many months prior. “A great deal of work went into the planning,” said Cheryl Cassiday, Director of Nursing for Chadron Community Hospital. “We did a lot to prepare and teach staff, physicians and other providers.”
“We went from a complete paper record to completely paperless, and when you do that, the computer becomes one of the training aspects,” Turman said. “Even while preliminary planning was under way, the hospital began to offer staff classes in how to use computers and productivity software, and email was used as a tool to get workers used to communicating electronically. Our goal was to have users reach a high comfort level with technology.”
“Early on, we came to the conclusion that our sys¬tem had to be something that fit our processes, rather than something that we had to adjust our processes to,” she added. “We knew in advance there would be a lot of ‘building’ with this approach, and we encouraged front-line user involvement. An unintended benefit was a better understanding of and background in the system, which in turn developed their skills to become exceptional trainers and support.”
While communication and cross-function teamwork were easier at a smaller organization, other challenges existed. “We were using our regular full-time staff to work on this, not someone who could dedicate 100 percent of his or her time,” Cassiday said. “Still, it was a plus to have the people who are actually doing the job designing the system. They could see it from the staff perspective.”
While Chadron Community was able to attest to Stage 1 of the Meaningful Use program, it’s made slower progress toward attesting to Stage 2, Turman said.
“MU2 has been a tough haul,” she admits. “The slow progress has been disheartening for people. We had a powerful group to implement this, and we’re so proud of everyone here. It’s just a steeper path now. The biggest thing wearing us down is pushing so hard so fast with multiple high priorities. It is constant rapid cycle change of adjusting one thing to meet a requirement that creates unintended ripple effects, which create other problems that constantly adjust workflow. Staff experiences this as constant change. We are making progress but could use some breathing room to celebrate our successes.”
The case study, entitled “Chadron Community Sees Hard Work and Benefits in Implementing an EHR,” can be accessed here.
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers and other senior healthcare IT leaders. With more than 1,400 CIO members and over 140 healthcare IT vendors and professional services firms, CHIME provides a highly interactive, trusted environment enabling senior professional and industry leaders to collaborate; exchange best practices; address professional development needs; and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and healthcare in the communities they serve. For more information, please visit www.chimecentral.org.
About Chadron Community Hospital and Health Services
Chadron (Neb.) Community Hospital and Health Services provides quality healthcare to the panhandle of Nebraska and surrounding communities. The 25-bed Critical Access Hospital provides medical and surgical care, obstetrics and newborn care, emergency care, and rehabilitation services. Chadron Community Hospital was named a 2014 Most Wired winner for the second consecutive year. Chadron Community Hospital has become the first facility in Nebraska to exchange data with Nebraska Immunization NESIIS in the production environment in real-time, via PHINMS and one of the first to be able to in real time receive Nebraska State Immunization data into its health records system. For more information, visit www.chadronhospital.com.
Director of Communications and Corporate Relations, CHIME
Updated: 9/17/2014 10:00:26 AM