By Cindy Abole
MUSC medical center was among 118 hospitals in the nation and the only hospital in South Carolina that is the "most connected," as listed in a ranking by U.S. News & World Report. The listing affirms MUSC as a leader statewide and nationally in its use of Electronic Medical Records (EMR).
A growing computer-based technology, EMR allows hospitals to manage patient medical information, physician orders, medication scanning, health information and electronic digitally stored data to physicians and clinical staff. EMR advances protect patients from hospital errors and help save lives.
Office of Chief Information Officer Frank Clark, Ph.D., compares the hospital's progress and recognition in this area as grabbing the brass ring in the complex world of health care.
According to Clark, the EMR transition will improve the clinical work flow of clinical staff and affect patient care by improving health care outcomes. The decision to respond and move forward in this area was driven by the 1999 Institute of Medicine's "To Err is Human" report, challenging hospitals to reduce preventable medical errors by investing and incorporating new technologies and safety systems that can report, evaluate and analyze medical errors.
"This effort has been an odyssey for us since we initiated it in 2007. What we've done is create a secure, closed loop clinical information and patient safety system that provides cognitive support to our medical staff in their everyday efforts. We've created a secure, transparent system that allows us to use tools that will help us work smarter and more efficient," Clark said.
Hospitals making the list had to meet two challenging standards demonstrating that they were leading the transition of medicine into EMR. Hospitals with the distinction of national ranking in the 2011-12 U.S. News' "Best Hospitals" or
"Best Children's Hospitals" rankings, or a designation as a "high-performing" in one or more medical specialties were considered for the "Most Connected Hospitals" list.
Hospitals that met the Stage 6 or Stage 7 of the EMR Adoption Model of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) analytics scored in the hospitals' adoption of EMR on a scale from Stage 0 (no EMRs) to Stage 7 (full use). MUSC medical center is currently at Stage 6.
HIMSS is a comprehensive health care organization dedicated to improving the quality, safety and cost-effectiveness to health care through the use of information technology and management systems.
MUSC's EMR was implemented in 2009 starting with the Clinical Documentation package (ClinDoc), Oacis/eCareNet viewer and Admin RX (bedside medication administration) projects. The final phase for installing computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system in Perinatal Services was completed Sept. 20. The plan is to continue with the CPOE rollout in the Newborn Nursery, Neonatal ICU and Special Care Nursery. OCIO also will continue to offer employee training and tech support.
Medical center leadership realized the potential and has supported this project from the start. Pat Cawley, M.D., MUSC executive medical director, considers EMR vital to automating aspects of clinical care by providing standardization and data collection in assessing the delivery of care, reliability and safety. The information gathered will provide quick electronic data that will help measure outcomes and make improvements.
"Our goal is to focus on quality of care and improve patient safety outcomes. We want to eventually develop as a highly reliable hospital organization with a robust IT infrastructure that will enable us to achieve widespread accessibility. All these changes will contribute to making medicine better for MUSC patients in the next five to 10 years."
To see the U.S. News & World Report rankings, visit http://tinyurl.com/3t4oazt.