Best practices for achieving HIMSS stage 7

Just 160 hospitals in the United States have achieved stage 7 on HIMSS Analytics' EMR Adoption Model. In a piece at Becker's Hospital Review, some of those hospitals offer best practices for those still working on it.

Not surprisingly, a big part of it is getting everybody on board. It has to be more than just an IT project, says Matt Chambers, CIO of Dallas-based Baylor Scott & White Health. The health system's hospitals in Round Rock and Taylor, Texas, were awarded stage 7 distinction Dec. 19.

In the design phase of EHR implementation, Chambers and his team laid out the goals of the effort and the metrics that would be used to measure its success. Bringing hospital leaders in at that point helped him get the operational and clerical support necessary to achieve stage 7.

"It has to be an organization-wide effort," says Chambers. "If you're counting on the CIO to do it all by him- or herself, you will fail."

Lancaster (Pa.) General Hospital and Tampa (Fla.) General Hospital also achieved stage 7 in December. A key factor in Lancaster was gaining the buy-in of physicians.

"Physician and hospital leaders have to support the change, prioritize its implementation over other projects and recognize the work as strategic and not solely as an IT project," says Michael Ripchinski, MD, the hospital's CMIO. "Physician department chairs and the physician advisory committee members are key leaders to accomplish this."

In Tampa, Scott Arnold senior vice president and CIO, stresses the importance of including administrative and business stakeholders as well.

"Having a good mix of clinical professionals, engineers and business professionals involved in the implementation of an EMR is critical," he says. At the Tampa hospital, "everyone 'owned' it in their respective clinical, business and support settings."

Scott & White in Dallas also made quick fixes to workflow issues a priority through a team called Project Evolve, helping to smooth the transition by identifying and promptly addressing issues and providing support to those needing it most.

In a letter to U.S. Department of Health &Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the HIMSS Electronic Health Records Association (EHRA) recently urged risk-based oversight over storage and transmission of health IT data. It urged identifying opportunities for more effective and appropriate oversight, and that health IT with lower or low risk should not be subject to additional health IT-specific oversight or regulation.

A recent webinar produced by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT urged clinicians to be alert to the possible role of health IT in creating unsafe conditions for patients and for healthcare organizations to create an environment that encourages reporting of potential problems.

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