Six months after going live with its inpatient electronic medical records (EMR), Akron Children's Hospital now ranks in the top tier of hospitals nationwide for EMR implementation. HIMSS Analytics, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, recently informed Akron Children's that it has achieved Stage 6 (out of seven stages) on its EMR Adoption Model scale. This scale ranks about 5,300 hospitals nationally. As of December 2012, only 440 U.S. hospitals have achieved Stage 6. "This is a huge achievement and puts Akron Children's in the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide," said Tom Ogg, vice president and chief information officer.
"This honor reflects not only the efforts of our IT department but the commitment of our entire organization, from the Board of Trustees and administration to the doctors and nurses on the front lines. Moreover, this is a huge win for our kids and their families."
To date, Akron Children's has invested about $50 million in its EMR conversion covering the inpatient and outpatient areas, including its decision to implement the Epic EMR and ancillary systems. This amount includes new computers and servers, an upgrade to the hospital's wireless system and a massive training effort that affected just about every employee in the hospital over several months. According to HIMSS Analytics, Stage 6 designation recognizes Akron Children's for achieving key implementation goals, such as having its lab, pharmacy and radiology management systems live and operational. Stage 6 hospitals have clinical data repositories that allow doctors and clinical staff to retrieve and review patient records. They have complete nursing documentation, computerized order entry and a very high percentage of physicians using the EMR in the inpatient setting. For several of these areas, Akron Children's is already at stage 7 levels, putting it in the top 2 percent of hospitals nationwide. In practical terms, it means that:
- The ER staff will know if a child has a food allergy and will also know of any medications he is taking.
- A doctor's illegible handwriting cannot cause a medication error.
- A doctor can access his patient's records from home if a medical emergency happens at night or over the weekend.
- A patient's x-rays, lab results and medical history are all easily accessible to the doctor or nurse caring for her in any area of the hospital.
- Patients can be registered bedside, meaning parents can remain with their child rather than having to go to the Admitting to complete paperwork.
- The risk of medical error is especially reduced as the EMR has checks in place to ensure the "five rights" – that the "right" patient is getting the "right" medication in the "right" dose, at the "right" time, and by the "right" route.
"EMR is an important tool that can be leveraged for the good of our patients," said Jeff Hord, MD, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and president of the Akron Children's Hospital Medical Staff. "It improves communication and the sharing of medical records between providers – even those working at different sites. There is simply less room for human error, whether it be a scribbled prescription or a miscalculated dose." Dr. Hord noted that all of Akron Children's providers committed to 12 hours of in-class training and at least another three to four hours of online training before the hospital's "go live" on June 1.
Akron Children's has significant plans to continue to upgrade and install new information technology in 2013 and is already implementing the final requirement to achieve Stage 7 level - creating a data warehouse to link the hospital's clinical systems to its financial information. "It's very gratifying to have an independent group like HIMSS recognize our efforts in EMR adoption," said Grace Wakulchik, chief operation officer. "It's been a significant investment in terms of time and money, but it's the cost of health care delivery today and will help us make continual improvements in two areas that are our top priority – safety and quality."
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