In-Depth: Paper to EHR Journey of 3 Behavioral Health Providers

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4. What benefits has your new EHR provided? Are there any major down sides?

For many thousands of acute care providers who started using EHRs in recent years, the jury is still out when it comes to satisfaction. Contrast that with users from these three behavioral health hospitals who expressed great enthusiasm about their EHR decisions. Despite the cost barriers created by lack of Meaningful Use incentives, the EHR benefits have been transformative.

– Better access to patient records enabling 21st century capabilities: Certainly, better access has streamlined work processes for staff who no longer have to hunt down and wait for paper records. As Terry Scovill at IntraCare pointed out, his staff can now also access patient records remotely and create discharge summaries far more quickly, which has a direct impact on continuum of care. Remote access to records also enables telemedicine solutions that the hospitals were previously unable to offer.

– Higher quality data ensuring better care and fewer errors: Moving away from paper-based eligibility issues immediately reduced errors and episodes of missing information, according to Dr. Ackerman. It also enabled monitoring of records, improved quality assurance, cleaner claims and more accurate, less time-consuming reporting—priorities for all three hospitals.

– Integrated care through electronic exchange of data with other providers: “Essential correspondence with other providers is faster and easier, and enables all to be more responsive to patient health developments … medication orders now move much more quickly,” said Evergreen’s Dr. Patz. “OpenVista has contributed to a more efficient, responsive referral process; using an EHR is faster, and we can feel confident that the information we are exchanging with referrals is accurate,” added Scovill.

– Better care enabled by OpenVista’s tailored Multi-Disciplinary Treatment Plan: The MDTP module, designed collaboratively by Medsphere and Silver Hill, gives clinicians a unique goaloriented tool that enables them to plan, coordinate and document patient care plans in order to track patient progress. For Silver Hill, MDTP has been “a great boon” that acute-oriented EHRs don’t provide. “We can now document entire plans and share progress towards our goals in real time,” according to EvergreenHealth Recovery Supervisor Eric Britt. “And, as we’ve gotten more comfortable with it, we keep finding creative new ways to apply it to our work.”

For EvergreenHealth Monroe, Silver Hill Hospital and IntraCare North, the transformation from paper to technology was not easy. The leaders and staff of each hospital endured soul-searching, informationgathering, risk analysis, and in some cases, trepidation. They confronted issues such as cost, lack of IT knowledge and internal expertise, security and privacy concerns, staff resistance and the scarcity of behavioral health-oriented systems. Today they are unanimous in their endorsement of the quality and efficiencies the OpenVista EHR provides.

“No one wants to go back to paper, even physicians who were initially reluctant,” Dr. Patz concluded. “The time savings and other benefits at the back end of a few extra minutes typing have made an incalculable difference to patient care and our organization’s productivity.”

“We are very happy,” added Dr. Ackerman at Silver Hill. “We’ve stopped looking around and are going to stay right here.”