Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fauquier Hospital Qualifies for Electronic Medical Records Funding

You’ve had a successful stay at the hospital. When you’re ready to be discharged, a smiling nurse hands you a flash drive with a copy of your up-to-date medical records and discharge instructions – including a list of your medications and your new dietary restrictions. A scene from the future? Maybe not.

There are more than 100 hospitals and medical centers in Virginia, but Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton is one of a very few that has completed the first phase of the mandatory move to electronic medical records. Nationwide, only about one in 10 has hit the mark.

The requirements were signed into law in 2009 as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, and $18 billion was set aside to reimburse medical facilities that could show they were using electronic medical records in a meaningful way. Fauquier Health was reimbursed almost $1.6 million for achieving the Stage 1 goal. Fauquier Health made a significant investment in technology and training to achieve Stage 1; the $1.6 million will help pay for that.

Among the required goals are those that streamline communication and assist with patient education, for instance:
• Physicians must use computerized ordering for medications.
• There must be checks in place to safeguard against negative drug to drug interactions and to protect patients who have a known allergy.
• At the patients’ request, provide them with an electronic copy of their medical records and/or their discharge instructions.
• Must be able to exchange medical information electronically with other medical offices or facilities.

Donna Staton, Fauquier Health’s Chief Information Officer, said that achieving meaningful use was an organizational initiative for Fauquier Health even before the requirements were finalized in the fall of 2009. Staton says, “Getting everyone trained and comfortable with the new systems and processes has been a huge undertaking. We began with our staff physicians, our hospitalists, and have also been working with physicians in the community.” Doctors in private practice can also be a part of the incentive program if they meet certain criteria.

What does meaningful use mean to patients?
Here are a few examples patients may notice as they interact with their doctors and the hospital.
• Patient safety should improve, as all those involved with a patient’s care will have access to the same accurate information.
• If they like, patients can receive their medical records electronically. Staton says that patients can receive a flash drive with their medical records or discharge instructions upon checkout, including information about their medications or when to see their doctor next
• Medications a patient may be taking will be evaluated upon admission, so all those involved in his or her care throughout their stay have current information.

What’s Next?
As part of the move toward completing Stage 2 requirements, Staton says the hospital is working on a patient portal for the hospital’s website ( that will allow patients to access their records, as well as receive targeted health information depending on their condition. Also slated for Stage 2: bar code scanning of medications at the bedside, ensuring that proper medications are given.

No comments: