Frank Beaman, CEO of Faith Community Hospital, Jacksboro, Texas, believes strongly in setting a good example. That’s why he gave all of Faith’s board members Apple iPads — and told them that the devices would replace the reams of printed paper that typically flow into the rural facility’s monthly board meetings.
“We want to create a paperless environment here. By giving our leaders iPads, we are developing a culture that sets the right tone for the entire organization,” Beaman says.
Indeed, the board initiative has brought much needed credibility to the hospital’s overall move toward the adoption of an electronic health records system — a challenge that can be especially daunting for rural hospitals. Consider the following: Among hospitals with fewer than loo beds, only 4.9 percent have implemented an EHR compared with nearly 16 percent of hospitals with at least 400 beds, according to a frequently cited 2009 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
The fact that the board members — a few of whom are in their 70s — started to conduct business electronically, however, illustrated that it’s entirely possible for anyone to change. What’s more, Beaman says that setting this example is what enabled him to move forward with a “no excuses” EHR adoption policy.
“With the board involved and setting a paperless example, it’s much easier to adopt a hardline, all-out approach. It’s really what made it possible for us to pursue an electronic health records system without looking back. We did not consider failure as an option — and we moved forward accordingly,” Beaman said.
To begin, Faith leaders put together a purchasing committee, comprised of representatives from multiple departments across the hospital. Armed with a detailed wish list, the committee didn’t want to settle for any system but instead wanted a technologically advanced solution that would provide all ofthe functionality needed — but one that wouldn’t take the typical two or three years to implement.
Based on the committee’s research, the hospital purchased and implemented Prognosis Healthcare Information System’s ChartAccess Comprehensive EHR, an innovative web-native solution. With this system, which is hosted on-site at Faith, software applications are made available as a service over an encrypted health information network. The inpatient EHR also connects to an outpatient EHR through a single-point, web-connection, making it possible for the hospital to seamlessly share data with physicians, completely eliminating the expense of developing and managing the interfaces needed to pass information from one system to the other.
To get clinicians and other staff members fully engaged, leaders illustrated how EHRs could help change processes, improve workflow and ultimately provide the increased access to information that would improve care. In addition, leaders explained the in-and-outs of the government’s meaningful use program in an effort to get staff members to fully understand the financial importance of adopting the technology in a timely manner. The fact that the board members were modeling “electronic behavior” made it much easier to gain the much-needed buy-in from front-line staff members.
The top-down culture change has been met with considerable success. In fact, the 41-bed hospital has:
- Implemented the EHR in just four months, January 2011 to April 2011
- Demonstrated 90 consecutive days of meaningful use of certified EHR technology through the submission of data for fourteen mandatory core set objectives and five out of ten menu set objectives as well as fourteen clinical quality measures via the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Attestation System. Staff members relied on the EHR’s meaningful use dashboard to monitor and document the hospital’s progress.
- Successfully attested to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s “meaningful use” requirements on June 5, 2011 — and subsequently received a stimulus payment.
- Joined an exclusive group: the first wave of providers to receive an ARRA incentive check from the federal government.
- Enhanced patient care and service through the seamless sharing of inpatient and outpatient data.
- Realized much of the promise associated with EHRs: “The easy access to patient information is helping caregivers make better decisions at the patient bedside,” Beaman says.