How one hospital fast-tracked MU

July 6, 2014 in Medical Technology

Darrel Whitmill, RN, manager of physician informatics and meaningful use at Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville, Tenn., wanted to beat the rush to Stage 2 meaningful use attestation.

He wanted to start collecting the required data for attestation by April 1. First, as required by the program, he had to put secure messaging in place to allow the exchange of patient information between the hospital and physician practices, other hospitals, nursing homes and home health organizations.

The kicker: There was less than two weeks to get it done.

Whitmill credits his eight-member meaningful use team’s hard work as well as the can-do approach of vendors Meditech and DataMotion for getting the job done in such a short time.

One reason Whitmill wanted to fast-track attestation is that through the end of 2013 he and his team had observed a lot of delay in being able to get vendors on board.

“We felt that the longer that we progressed through that timeframe, the greater chance that we would have a vendor overload – all those vendors being overloaded with the number of facilities that are trying to attest for 2014,” Whitmill said.

There was also the money to think about. Whitmill said he did not know exactly how much was at stake. But, for other hospitals, the incentive from the Meaningful Use EHR Incentive Program has tallied in the millions, not thousands.

[See also: MU attestation extended by one month.]

Cumberland Medical Center is a 189-bed regional hospital, part of Covenant Health. It employs more than 800 employees and uses the Meditech 6.0 EHR system.

Whitmill had already tapped health information service provider DataMotion to deploy its Direct Secure Messaging technology, but before DataMotion could get started, Meditech had to complete its upgrade to the 6.0 version of its EHR.

[See also: CHIME urges changes to meaningful use.]

All the stars had to align, and they did.

Cumberland Medical Center joined the regional HIE. It’s called eTHIN – East Tennessee Health Information Network. While Whitmill had already been in touch with the referral partners – physician practices, hospitals and other organizations with which the hospital would be sharing patient information, there was IT work that had to be done to make it happen.

“We needed eTHIN’s support in doing that,” said Whitmill. “So they went out and did the groundwork of setting them up and using DataMotion’s functionality, provided a portal for them to go in and open and see those patient health summaries that we were sending out.”

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