EMR Swap to Improve POC Collaboration?

Count Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS) among those healthcare organizations making major health IT changes in an effort to foster more meaningful collaboration at the mobile point of care.

I had heard YNHHS was winding down on a 36-month rip-and-replace project, swapping out its 10-year-old-plus electronic medical record for a new EMR from Epic. When I caught up with Daniel Barchi last week, the senior vice president and CIO at YNHHS confirmed the $300 million EMR implementation is now nearing completion, having launched about a month ago in a thousand-bed hospital, with roughly 600 physicians and numerous mobile practices.

Alignment

The EMR switchover will deliver closer alignment among Yale New Haven’s three hospitals, the EMA, and the health system. It also will align about a thousand physicians at Yale Medical Group, an independent organization.

While this improved alignment is helpful from a cost control perspective, Barchi says what’s really exciting about implementing the single EMR is that it enabled his department to finally tear down all of the communication barriers across these different institutions.

“The EMR project was driven by our desire to better align these organizations, as well as by our knowledge that the future of healthcare is population management and the use of informatics to improve clinical care,” said Barchi.

Mobile

YNHHS has deployed a good amount of technology enabling physicians to access data on mobile devices, primarily through physician portals. As part of its new EMR rollout, the health system also has activated a couple physician productivity tools for tablets and mobile phones.

“We’re starting to recognize that interconnectedness is the key to all of this,” Barchi said. “And it’s our physicians, who are caring for patients, who most need the ability to get data anywhere.”

At YNHHS, tablets are commonplace. Last year, the Yale School of Medicine rolled out a new initiative through which all medical students received their textbooks on a popular consumer tablet device. Between the student body and physicians who are using it, YNHHS has over 800 tablets deployed.

In addition to the mobile productivity tools currently enabled for physicians to assist with reviewing results and charting, Barchi expects more tools and opportunities to emerge as medical students transition from textbooks to clinical work.

Collaboration

It’s all well and good that YNHHS’ EMR project improved alignment among its member and affiliated organizations while supporting the hospital’s mobility plans.

Better still, though, is how this important early step is promoting truer collaboration at the point of care, as physicians gain critical access to complete medical records and become more facile at sharing patient data at the mobile point of care.

Since the IT Dept.’s goal isn’t to add technology, but to maximize the use of existing equipment and applications, they’re currently in the process of consolidating applications and reducing the number of overall systems.

Among other things, doing so has enabled YNHHS’ inpatient physicians to reduce the number of passwords they need to memorize from eight-plus to fewer than three.

“Health IT is becoming less about IT all the time,” Barchi added. “Instead of embracing the latest technology and trying to find a home for it, we watch for needs and then work with our caregivers to determine what might best meet their needs, or follow their lead if they find a tool. That’s what makes health IT so interesting; it’s not so much the technology, but finding solutions with our clinical partners.”

Is your health IT department working to advance collaboration at the POC? What steps are you taking?

As a B2B journalist, John Farrell has covered healthcare IT since 1997 and is Intel’s sponsored correspondent.