Categorized | Health

‘Health Connect’ launched at Hilo Medical Center

Hilo Medical Center’s official Health Connect Baby is Myah Palisbo. She was born at 6:30 a.m. May 1. She is the first baby born into the electronic medical record system. Her complete record will accompany her throughout her care at Hilo Medical Center. (Photo courtesy of Hilo Medical Center)

Special to Hawaii 24/7 by Elena Cabatu | Hilo Medical Center Community Relations Manager

After nearly a year of training and preparation, Hilo Medical Center became the first public hospital in Hawaii Health Systems Corporation to convert to an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system May 1. The purpose of transitioning to the EMR system is aimed at improving patient care and safety and the hospital’s financial performance.

The new EMR system, named Health Connect by HMC employees, was produced by MEDITECH and will cost $3 million over the next 5 years. It enables the hospital to connect electronically with internal and external physicians and other service providers to ensure the best possible care for hospital patients.

The system also streamlines operational activities to improve efficiencies, which translates into better collections and more timely reimbursements from insurance and government providers. In subsequent phases of the project, both sister facilities, Ka’u Hospital and Hale Hoola Hamakua, in the East Hawaii Region will be brought onto the system along with physician offices in the community.

“We are extremely proud of our staff for their efforts to transition HMC and the rest of our region into the EMR system,” said Howard N. Ainsley, East Hawaii Regional CEO of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. “Our success would not have been possible without their commitment and willingness to embrace this significant change in our operations. I also want to thank the East Hawaii Regional Board for their support of this project,”

Throughout the course of ramping up for the transition, over 800 employees completed training and all physicians with hospital privileges attended the Health Connect training classes.

The physicians now have around the clock access to the patient record including digitally stored Radiological images like x-rays, CT scans and MRIs, dictated reports, all laboratory test results, review of orders, nursing notes, medication, Emergency Department visit information, long-term care charts from home, office and everywhere in between.

All departments except the Operating Room department have transitioned to the Health Connect system.

“While HMC has much to do during this transition and stabilization phase of the project, the feat accomplished by the project team and employees is no small achievement or undertaking,” said Money Atwal, East Hawaii Regional Chief Information Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Hawaii Health Systems Corporation. “Hilo Medical Center will continue to push forward with the goal and vision of achieving meaningful use by 2011.”

Hilo Medical Center received an $800,000 grant from the HMSA Initiative for Innovation and Quality (HI-IQ) for the Health Connect project. The HMSA program is an effort to transform health care in Hawaii by funding innovative advancements in healthcare.

The HI-IQ project provides $50 million available in financial assistance to help Hawaii hospitals implement technology solutions to make the state’s health care system more effective and efficient.

In addition, Hilo Medical Center is working to obtain incentivized stimulus funds that were made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to encourage a nationwide transition to Electronic Health Record. Hospitals like HMC’s Health Connect project that support improvements in patient care and outcomes are able to receive this financial support. I

n order to receive funds from the ARRA hospitals must meet certain criteria called “meaningful use” by 2011 and be near completion by 2013.

Meaningful use criteria includes:

*Using drug-drug, drug-allergy drug-formulary checking;
Maintaining a problem list of active diagnoses based on ICD-9 or SNOMED
* Maintaining active medication and medication allergy lists;
Electronically recording advanced directives, patient vital signs and smoking status
* Implementing 1 clinical decision support rule for high-priority conditions
* Checking insurance eligibility and submitting claims electronically
* Providing patients an electronic copy of their health record.
* Performing electronic medication reconciliation.
* Electronically reporting quality measures to CMS.

Hospitals that have started on the EMR journey are eligible for stimulus funds while those who wait are at risk for reduced Medicare and Medicaid payments as well as government penalties for noncompliance. CMS will increase hospital reimbursements Oct. 1 based on the “meaningful use” incentive criteria. The estimates range up to in excess of $3-5 million of additional reimbursement for HMC.

One Response to “‘Health Connect’ launched at Hilo Medical Center”

  1. Moses Shim says:

    Really happy for the new computer system for patient care and safety that assists the nurses and doctors to care for their patients 24. Makes work much less complicated and runs a smooth shift. As an RN, I enjoy and love the new E-MAR and Electronic Charting. Can't wait till the Doctor's computerize their orders. Look foward to the new era of Nursing.


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