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Electronic Medical Records Botsford’s big bang

A Michigan hospital counts down the days to its EMR system launch and readies for meaningful use.

By Dr. Paul E. LaCasse, D.O., MPH I

n October of 2011, the staff at Botsford Hospital, a 330-bed, 2,300-employee hospital located in Farm- ington Hills, Mich., will experience its own version of a big bang. Full implementation of an electronic medical records (EMR) system will be complete, and the system will go live.

Our journey began in the fall of 2009, when initial discussions on the need for a comprehensive EMR sys- tem took place. And now, mid implementation, we have some busy months ahead to meet our fi nal goal. Soon enough, Botsford will be fully operational with its EMR and replacement of core patient-management, fi nancial and material-management systems. We’re empowered to share what went into the decision and initial installation phases to help others, who are weighing the benefi ts of EMR, focus on what’s really important: patients.

The decision

The decision to transition to an EMR system was one of transformation – advancing the way we deliver care, bettering communication between staff and patients and improving patient safety. While there are stimulus and meaningful-use dollars on the table, I was careful to advise hospital leaders that we didn’t want to rush into a decision. We were about to embark on a signifi cant overhaul of our IT systems. While we all wanted a sys- tem to automate our processes, automation on a fl awed system would only make things worse. With this in mind, we went to work on some of our existing processes to make them more effi cient and effective before we got started. We established an Offi ce of Clinical Process Im- provement along with a steering committee to guide the process and develop objectives for a new EMR system. We also turned to our long-time IT services partner,

Affi liated Computer Services (ACS), a Xerox company, to help us with the strategic decision involved in selecting an EMR solution. ACS brought technical and strategic expertise that we simply did not have. Using their ex- perience in EMR vendor selection and implementation, ACS staff members helped us to decipher our needs and match us up with vendors that could deliver on our organizational goals and cost objectives.

“Botsford was looking for a complete, integrated solution aligned with the hospital’s mission to improve

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patient care and safety,” says Paul Solverson, partner, strategic advisory services, ACS healthcare provider consulting. “[Botsford staff] didn’t want best-of-breed products; they wanted modules that were integrated, not interfaced – a complete overhaul of what they had.” As an independent teaching hospital, we also work within a well-defi ned budget and have specifi c cost objec- tives. ACS made us aware of the requirements so that we will be able to capture critical stimulus and meaningful- use funding. We put these plans into place before the formal meaningful-use regulations were issued in July. We didn’t need to make changes; we were prepared.

For an implementation to be supported and accepted by the end users, it has to be done for the purpose of improving patient care, effi ciency and patient safety.

With help from ACS, our Clinical Process Improve- ment Offi ce and steering committee, we completed a comprehensive request-for-approval process to evaluate potential EMR offerings. We opted to go with the McKes- son Paragon solution, an all-inclusive and fully integrated hospital information system. We wanted a solution that would work seamlessly with our existing laboratory and emergency department systems. This decision also met our goal to improve patient safety. For example, adding barcode technology to our medication administration process will ultimately help us improve communication and reduce errors between physicians, pharmacies and patients.

Do it for the right reasons Change of any kind is diffi cult. With EMR, the fi rst step is to make the change for the right reasons. Then, you should reiterate those reasons regularly to your employees, so that your clear purpose is reinforced. If employees believe the implementation is being done only to take advantage of meaningful-use dollars, it sets the wrong precedent; it has to be done for the purposes of improving patient care, effi ciency and patient safety.


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