How to humanize health IT

In looking to secure Meaningful Use funds, the most important part of a hospital's mission--patient care--often gets overlooked, according to Richard Ong, CIO of Erie, Pa.-based St. Vincent Health System.

Ong, in a recent interview with Healthcare Technology Online, said that just the act of "transforming a paper form into an electronic one" won't be enough to revolutionize healthcare.

"[I]t isn't going to have much of an impact on the patient," Ong said. "It's what you do with that electronic data that matters. You need to rationalize and understand the real economics of this data. How can this data help us achieve our corporate objectives? How can we leverage the data in downstream hospital systems? And most importantly, how can this data ultimately benefit our patients?"

Patients don't care that EHRs allow physicians quick access to charts, or the ability to generate reports, he said. Instead, what they care about is that it helped reduced their length of stay, got them their lab results quicker or alerted the clinician to a medical condition or prescription error.

"Patients will take notice" of those things, Ong said.

In October, at the College of Healthcare Information Executives (CHIME) CIO forum, leaders discussed their tips for surviving a Meaningful Use audit. As FierceEMR has previously reported, many providers have struggled to document their Meaningful Use attestation.

Organizations must keep data to support attestation claims for up to six years. "We call it attestation evidence: It is critical that you know exactly what you attested against and that you do have a way to quickly retrieve and produce it. You need to really think through how that works for your organization," Elizabeth Johnson, vice president of applied clinical Informatics at Tenet Healthcare Corporation, told FierceHealthIT. In many organizations, she said, such information is stored in a binder (or multiple binders) on a shelf somewhere.

"Binders are OK--everyone has a binder," Johnson said. But "put it in a PDF so you can quickly produce it again in the future."

To learn more:
- read the article in Healthcare Technology Online
- here's video of the interview

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