As healthcare M&As lead to disparate EHR systems, integration is key. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) of LCMC Health recommends careful consideration of upfront costs and measuring user adoption to choose the most effective integrated system. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS) EHR adoption model can be used as an industry benchmarking tool to measure end-user adoption and other KPIs. The article’s conclusion is that meticulous planning and execution are necessary for EHR integration in order to guarantee the seamless integration of various clinical and RCM systems.
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have become a standard feature of modern healthcare systems, with almost all non-federal acute care hospitals in the United States have adopted a certified EHR by 2021. However, with the increasing number of healthcare mergers and acquisitions (M&As), the integration of EHRs across previously disparate organizations is a major challenge. The integration of EHRs is essential to ensure seamless healthcare operations, improve patient care, and drive cost efficiencies. This article discusses the case of LCMC Health, a New Orleans-based health system, which integrated four independent hospitals on different technology platforms, including one still on paper, under one roof through an integrated EHR implementation.
EHR Integration at LCMC Health Tanya Townson, MSMI, CHCIO, CDH-E, joined LCMC Health in 2014 as the Chief Information Officer (CIO) to help bring disparate clinical and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) systems together under one roof through an integrated EHR implementation. LCMC’s hospitals had already established relationships with several top EHR vendors, and it didn’t take long for the health system to decide on a platform. The health system wanted to ensure that the EHR platform supported a longitudinal patient record so that providers could access complete health histories regardless of what LCMC setting a patient visits. Additionally, LCMC wanted to pare down its technology investments by leveraging a system that included RCM.
LCMC selected an integrated Epic EHR, which was a major investment for the health system, but it saved the health system money in the long run by deduplication of systems. When you’re in a disparate environment, there’s a cost to all of those various tools, so it was a huge saving when we took out the duplication of expense. With an integrated solution, if you leverage it to its full capability, you’re not purchasing other solutions and trying to piece those together. Yet, health systems must carefully evaluate their upfront expenses. Due to the complexity of healthcare, the EHR may need to be connected with hundreds of other systems. Therefore, it’s a big commitment on all levels of the organization, not just during the implementation but also in understanding what that resource commitment needs to look like in the long term.
User Acceptance Metrics and EHR Integration KPIs Tanya Townson urged other healthcare organizations to measure user acceptance and several Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) after putting an integrated EHR in place. Health systems should establish baselines for their current performance, measure their progress, and set objectives for both the implementation and the follow-up period. It’s not just a one-time measure where you check it off the list and move on.
The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMMS) EHR adoption model, which Townson referred to as an industry benchmarking tool, has helped LCMC measure end-user adoption and other KPIs. It’s not just about the technology or turning on a specific feature in the system. It’s helping to measure how well we’re using the system. Go-live is only the beginning. The EHR is a very powerful tool not just to take care of our patients but also to find those operational efficiencies and marry the goals of quality, safety, patient experience, and clinician satisfaction.
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