Norwegian American Hospital: Health IT aids quality turnaround

Three years ago, Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago was in a financial hole, faced regulatory challenges and citations from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and suffered from low patient safety and care quality scores. The Joint Commission threatened to strip Norwegian American of its accreditation over safety and cleanliness problems.

Abha Agrawal, M.D., chief operating officer and vice president of medical affairs, talked to Healthcare Informatics about how technology--including electronic medical records, quality metrics and dashboards--helped turn the organization around.

"About three years ago, we had almost nothing in the way of an EHR," she said. Last year, the organization attested to Stage 1 of the Meaningful Use incentive program.

Although the organization is "still progressing," it has since gone live with computerized physician order entry and barcoded meds administration, and is increasing physician and nursing documentation, electronic lab results, image-sharing and medication reconciliation, Agrawal told Healthcare Informatics. "And we're also leveraging technology for revenue cycle improvement."

When it comes to using health IT to improve quality, no one IT system offers the perfect solution, Ann O'Brien, R.N., director of clinical informatics at Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente, said at a nursing IT summit earlier this year. Rather, she said, health IT efforts must focus on continuous performance improvement.

"You have to look at what can enable small amounts of change" as it relates to a larger goal of better quality for patients, O'Brien said.

To learn more:
- here's the interview