ANN ARBOR, MI, January 11, 2011 – Five members of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) testified before a federal panel today in Washington D.C. on the successes, barriers and challenges in meeting requirements for using electronic health records in order to qualify for additional payments from federal programs.
The members shared their experiences in trying to meaningfully use EHRs during a hearing before the Implementation Workgroup, a subgroup of the HIT Standards Committee. Under the HITECH Act, the Standards Committee serves as a federal advisory panel that reports to David Blumenthal, MD, national coordinator for health information technology, on standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the electronic exchange and use of health information.
The hearing, entitled “Real World Experiences Working with Meaningful Use,” featured panels of eligible professionals and large and small IDNs seeking attestation, as well as regional extension centers and certifiers. Witnesses included both those seeking to attest for MU in 2011, and those not expecting to participate next year. The Workgroup wanted to hear about successes as well as challenges and how hospitals and eligible professionals have addressed these issues.
Four CHIME members participated on the “hospital experience panel,” which shared various perspectives from early adopters on installing electronic health records systems and achieving meaningful use objectives. Another CHIME member took part in the “implementation support panel,” to discuss the efforts involved in collaborative health information exchange. CHIME members who testified were:
- Russell P. Branzell, vice president and CIO, Poudre Valley Health System, Fort Collins, Colo.
- Charles E. Christian, CIO, Good Samaritan Hospital, Vincennes, Ind.
- Denni McColm, CIO, Citizens Memorial Hospital, Bolivar, Mo.
- Linda Reed, vice president and CIO, Atlantic Health, Morristown, N.J.
- Joanne Sunquist, CIO, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, Minn.
The testimony before the HIT Standards Committee hearing is expected to help the Implementation Workgroup formulate recommendations to the HIT Standards Committee and the National Coordinator on early adoption of meaningful use.
Meeting all requirements necessary to demonstrate meaningful use of electronic health records will be challenging for many hospitals, testified Sunquist, CIO at 440-bed Hennepin County Medical Center, a safety net teaching hospital.
“Creating the reports for eligible hospital MU objectives and quality measures has become an onerous, difficult and time-consuming process,” Sunquist said. “This is in spite of the fact that we are working closely with our certified vendor who has provided certified reports. We are concerned that the difficulties organizations will face in producing the reports will result in significant delays in attestation, while not inherently adding value to the overall intent of MU.”
According to Christian, CIO of a 232-bed community hospital in rural Southwest Indiana, his organization was fortunate to get a head start on implementing technology. “GSH was early to realize the importance of the appropriate implementation of technology in the effective and safe provision of care,” Christian said. The hospital and medical staff worked together to identify applications “that would improve the care process and create a safer environment in which to deliver high-quality care.”
Christian points out that through hard work and a dedicated team, Good Samaritan Hospital has been very successful. However, its outcomes and experiences can not be considered routine.
“In smaller facilities, the IT departments are much smaller and the spectrum of responsibility and effort ranges from management duties all the way to pulling and installing network cable,” he said. “In many critical access hospitals, they have to depend upon the talents and services of outside expertise, as they cannot afford to employ certain positions on a full-time basis. In my conversations with smaller facilities, there is a concern that they will not be able to retain the level of expertise that the identified efforts will require.”
Discussing health information exchange, Atlantic Health’s Reed noted that achieving this meaningful use objective is more than a technology issue for most healthcare organizations.
“HIE…includes appropriate use cases and the incorporation of acquired data into the physician EMR workflow,” Reed said. “In various discussions with physicians in my organization, it is clear that they want autonomy in choosing technologies, but also expect to be able to send and receive data at will. The trouble is that many of them do not know what is required for this or whether they have capable systems.”
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving chief information officers and other senior healthcare IT leaders. With more than 1,400 CIO members and over 70 healthcare IT vendors and professional services firms, CHIME provides a highly interactive, trusted environment enabling senior professional and industry leaders to collaborate; exchange best practices; address professional development needs; and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and healthcare in the communities they serve. For more information, please visit www.cio-chime.org.