Expert Panel Discussion: Health Care Reform:
How Community Hospitals Thrive in an Environment of Rapid Change
Because we are a small community hospital, we have been working collaboratively with our key vendors and local organizations such as our payers and the state hospital association, the Healthcare Association of New York State. We're working with these groups to prepare high-level presentations for both executive management and our board.
Since the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in early 2009, and the definition of meaningful use of the electronic medical record, our IT department started building a plan. One of Marengo Memorial Hospital's biggest issues will be achieving meaningful use. The IT department is taking on a financial role ensuring MMH will be qualified for health care incentives. But IT can't do it alone. We established an Incentive/Stimulus/Grants/Regulations Committee in May. The committee identified meaningful use as the focus of the group's discussions. Tasks are identified and handed out to committee members. The committee has met with our vendor, McKesson, and viewed demos of the pharmacy and medication administration systems, as well as the pharmacy dispensing cabinets. We also viewed a webinar on McKesson's Paragon Community Hospital Information System version 10.0 certification for meaningful use and the criteria we must meet to apply for stimulus funds and the new Medicare guidelines so we will not be penalized. The committee developed a plan to move to 64-bit architecture by the end of 2010. Also, IT has taken a lot of good steps with Practice Partner.
The clinic's system will also go through the stimulus process, but it is much closer to qualifying for incentives.
In order to comply with Stage 1 meaningful use, pharmacy, CPOE and release of information were identified as needing to be planned for and implemented.
Since the publication of ARRA, we created an education program to explain the legislation to our board, leadership and staff. In addition, we reviewed our IT Strategic Plan to identify whether we have any gaps that would prohibit achieving meaningful use of health information technology. Included in the education were modifications and a timeline for certification. We have continued to provide updates to progress and education as new information has been received. We have recently started a process to complete a gap analysis of each entity against the final rules to determine whether any process changes are required to achieve meaningful use. We plan to work with hospital leadership to implement any necessary changes in operations to support meaningful use.
Community Hospital is a critical access hospital in southwest Nebraska. Our Board of Directors is made up of nine community leaders, representing banking, industrial, agriculture, small business, pharmacy and emergency response, as well as physicians. Over the past year, we have educated our board on ARRA, health care reform overall, and meaningful use in particular. We have also included the goal of achieving meaningful use and preparing our organization for health care reform in our strategic plan, which was updated during this past year. I can't say that our board members understand all of the specifics involved in meaningful use, but they do understand that it will be a huge task to complete in a short amount of time. They also understand that meaningful use needs to be achieved as quickly and efficiently as we can to maximize the financial benefit through the ARRA stimulus funds.
As I mentioned, we've also provided education to the board on health care reform education. This education has included the financial impact and access to care. We have, and will continue to provide our board members with talking points that they can share when approached by citizens in our community and throughout the region. Senior leadership has been at the forefront of providing this education, poring over the regulations, and even commenting on the regulations at a national and local level.
At McKesson, accelerating our customers' path to meaningful use and helping them prepare for reform are two of our highest priorities. We continue to field questions and see healthy debate on the impact of ARRA and reform through our email@example.com e-mail and, as Jamie mentioned, we're currently running a weekly webinar series for customers on meaningful use. The response has been overwhelming. We're averaging between 200 and 250 participants on each of these calls, including many hospital administrators. That tells me that hospitals truly understand the potential impact of ARRA on their organizations and are actively seeking to arm themselves with as much information as possible. The support of a hospital's administration is absolutely critical to the success of stimulus initiatives, so we're supportive of any efforts on the part of leaders to evaluate and assess the true impact on their organizations.
The McKesson webinar series has been a valuable educational resource for our organization. The Incentive/Stimulus/Grants/Regulations Committee has been able to start a gap analysis, explore the addition of pharmacy, CPOE and emergency department to our McKesson Paragon system, and see what upgrading to the certified McKesson version (10.0) will mean for our facility and our patients.
Early on, we have been working with our hospital's administration and board by providing them with as much information as possible on health care reform. We have had many meetings just on what is needed for our hospital to achieve meaningful use. We have invited our hospital administration and other special committees to attend multiple webinars to make sure that they are well informed on the latest information and changes to health care reform. We have also done a special board presentation on where we are and what needs to be done to achieve the different stages of meaningful use.