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TCHS moves forward with EHR to improve patient care

Thayer County Health Services is leading the way in electronic health records (EHR) for patients and the word is getting out. Last week the health service provider was asked to host a teleconference detailing steps for providers to become meaningful users of health information technology. The presentation was part of a national event encouraging critical access hospitals toward reaching meaningful use.

What is meaningful use? In a health information technology (HIT) context, it is the level in which a health care organization is using EHR. The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs will provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology within their facilities. Basically, it will affect how hospitals are reimbursed and this will affect their overall bottom line.

“Besides the financial benefit, the ability to improve patient safety has made this a real passion of mine,” said TCHS CEO Joyce Beck. “I’ve given presentations in 11 states and we’ve had 13 states visit us. We get calls all the time asking how we put this system together. On the national level, we get a lot of attention.”

In fact, as an innovative leader in using EHR to improve patient care, TCHS has been asked again to be part of the Office of the National Coordinators (ONC) exhibit at the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference in Orlando next month. The conference showcases new innovations in health care.Last week, TCHS shared its implementation of and demonstrated its intent to become meaningful users of EHR with other rural critical access hospitals in the state. They also took part in a national registry with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Due to incentive funding of up to $27 billion over ten years included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, HHS is able to offer technical and financial assistance as it guides a national effort to encourage more hospitals and doctors to adopt EHR over thenext few years.

TCHS is part of that effort. “We believe electronic health records will provide a number of advantages to our patients,” Beck said. “Doctors will be able to see a patient’s complete health picture. There will be better care coordination between health providers and fewer repetitive tests since providers can safely and securely share information.”

Beck said since the establishment of the system at TCHS, medication errors have dwindled. “It’s about patient safety,” she said. “To be a successful health service provider, there has to be a commitment to patient safety.”
Which is why TCHS implemented EHR in the first place. “It’s always been about patient care and their safety,” the CEO said. “It comes first.”

Thayer County Health Services continues to be a leader in EHR use and its information technology department has won a national award for its demonstration of an exchanging of health information on a national level. Join the Hebron Journal-Register next month as we take a closer look at our local health care provider’s innovative system during Heart Health month.

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