MERRILLVILLE | Methodist Hospitals is at the front of the pack for transitioning into electronic medical record keeping.
It recently achieved Stage 6 of seven stages in the EMR Adoption Model SM. HIMSS Analytics, an organization focused on better health through information technology, developed the model to evaluate the progress and impact of electronic medical record systems for hospitals in its database.
Hospitals have to answer a survey about their electronic record keeping, and HIMSS determines whether they have reached the next stage, said Tim Diamond, chief information officer for Methodist Hospitals.
When hospitals are ready for Stage 7 approval, HIMSS does on-site visits.
"It's a little more extensive scrutiny," Diamond said.
Meeting goals that lead to better care for patients is key, Diamond said.
"That's our push and our strive to do what we do," he said.
The hospital already is ahead of the electronic medical record "meaningful use" initiative, which offers financial incentives through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to facilities that transfer to electronic record keeping.
Achieving advanced stages through HIMSS also helps with bond ratings, Diamond said.
"They ask what HIMSS Analytics stage you're at," he said. "If you say you're at 6 or 7, it's a very positive check mark."
Methodist's goal is to reach Stage 7 in the next two years, he said.
Diamond said reaching this advanced stage sends a positive message to the community, and doctors feel better about sending their patients to hospitals that have achieved this stage of transitioning to electronic records.
Implementation of electronic records is transforming the practice of modern medicine in our technologically advancing society, said Dr. Rupesh Shah, chair of the Computer Physician Order Entry Committee with Methodist Hospitals.
"It has given us the ability to readily access medical information from hospitals, medical offices, remote electronic devices and even at the patient's bedside," Shah said. "In addition, we have been able to create electronic documentation via voice recognition software, submit electronic orders instantaneously and track quality and safety measures to optimize patient care."
Upcoming initiatives for Methodist include expansion of Epic Ambulatory, which lets hospitals communicate with medical offices, EpicCare link, which allows hospitals to electronically communicate with other facilities and My Chart, which allows patients to electronically access components of their medical records, Shah said.