The Benefits of Electronic Health Records
September, 24 2013 | Smaller community hospitals generally do not have the personnel or the resources of their larger counterparts. So, implementing system-wide electronic health record technology can pose some hurdles in the process. Yet, with the help of Siemens, Arkansas Heart Hospital launched its Soarian health information system in record time.
Text: Diana Smith
Photos: Dero Sanford
Physician-turned-entrepreneur Bruce Murphy, MD, PhD, is no stranger to tight deadlines. In his chosen field, physicians and clinical staff race the clock every day to provide the best intervention in the critical moments after a cardiac event, when every minute counts.
How It All Started
Working as a cardiologist 18 years ago in Little Rock, Arkansas, USA, he found it increasingly more difficult to obtain the care he wanted for his patients. The state’s capitol was served by two health systems, but Dr. Murphy says, “We were woefully underserved as far as catheterization labs and CCU (Critical Care Unit) beds go. We were getting up in the middle of the night and doing caths on patients who had been waiting all day long to do them. And, we had heart attack patients who were staying in rural community hospitals for four or five days before they were transferred because there were no beds.”
He decided to take action. Along with then partner MedCath, a mobile catheterization laboratory company now dissolved, he founded Arkansas Heart Hospital (AHH). “Within literally 21 days, we went from building a single catheterization lab to signing papers to build a hospital.” Today, the hospital has 110 beds, 850 employees and a web of 30 clinics, plus is the only one in Central Arkansas to earn Accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers.
Moving Systems to the Patient
The hospital put some innovative measures in place when it was built, all designed to provide better patient care. Each room is set up as an Intensive Care Unit room; there are no step down levels. Evidence-based protocols were implemented almost two decades ago, and employees are empowered to make decisions and practice at the top level of their scope of care. “We are a very collaborative hospital,” explains Chris Dent, RN, MS, Vice President of Clinical Services. “You have to take care of cardiovascular patients. Our patients go upstairs from Recovery into a hard-wired monitored bed. Monitors leave the room as the patient gets better. We don’t move the patient through the system. We move the systems to the patient.”
Launching EHR Technology
In 2012, the hospital faced a new challenge – an imminent deadline. Support for its previous medical record system dissipated when the hospital changed ownership. Plus, to qualify for federal incentive funds authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the leadership team had mere months to implement electronic health records technology and demonstrate meaningful use.
After a side-by-side test of the Siemens Soarian® solution against a major competitor’s system, Dr. Murphy says the AHH physicians who compared the two solutions believed the Soarian platform was superior and more intuitive.
He continues, “I hear it on a regular basis from the cardiologists in this hospital who go to other hospitals and use other systems. They say Soarian is far more intuitive and easier to use.”
Convincing Financial Benefits
Additionally, on the financial side, this solution demonstrated an element that others did not have and sealed the deal for former Chief Financial Officer Mark Hartman. “The feature I really liked was the ability to query physicians and for them to check a box, and documentation would be added to the chart based on their answer to the query. What I saw would be greatly improved physician documentation, thus allowing us to do a better job of adequately coding the account to reflect the services that were provided for the patient. It would allow us to get the appropriate reimbursement for what we were doing for the patient.”
Quality: The Top Priority
With its long-standing focus on patient-centered care, Arkansas Heart Hospital is relying on Soarian Clinicals to help facilitate patient care and improve communication, according to Dent.
Nurses document information electronically at the patient’s bedside, achieving a reduction in charting time and allowing more time for direct care. “Because we have a lot of information already available to us electronically, we’re not re-asking the same questions and wasting time,” she says. “Our patients appreciate that. It’s a huge time-saver and in chest pain, when we’re trying to expedite our door-to- reperfusion time, minutes can make all the difference in the world.”
The Result: 100 Percent Compliance
She continues, “We have transitioned from paper charting to electronic for computerized physician order entry (CPOE), nursing documentation and medication administration,” she says. “The order entry from the physicians’ standpoint expedites care. Legibility was a factor in handwritten medical reconciliation forms. CPOE has helped us tremendously with not making as many errors in transcription.”
In March 2013, the hospital achieved a “first” - 100 percent compliance with documentation on procedures done throughout the hospital using moderate sedation. “We achieved 100 percent compliance after we put the information online in the form,” Dent explains.
Working with Siemens, Arkansas Heart Hospital completed the changeover to the new healthcare IT solution in less than six months, a dramatic feat for any facility, but particularly for a small community hospital with limited IT resources. According to Arkansas Heart Hospital, the timing was perfect.
Diana Smith is a writer specializing in medical topics. She is based in Liberty Hill, Texas, U.S.
The outcomes achieved by the Siemens customers described herein were achieved in the customer’s unique setting. Since there is no “typical” hospital and many variables exist (e.g., hospital size, case mix, level of IT adoption), there can be no guarantee that others will achieve the same results.