The Obama administration's huge funding effort to create a nationwide network of interoperable electronic health records has been called the biggest thing that's ever happened in health information technology. Not entirely paperless, but "paper light" is the term Cathy Fuhrman's team has coined for operations at San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare, an integrated delivery system with four acute-care hospitals and three specialty hospitals. Fuhrman, manager of information systems, and her staff have worked diligently over the last five years to integrate Hyland Software's OnBase imaging solutions with the health system's major financial and clinical applications. Meanwhile, simplifying the distribution of reports and cutting down on paper costs has long been a goal of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's finance team. With the implementation of Open Text's Report & Output Management Suite, the multisite medical center in northern New England has been able to create a repository for its PeopleSoft reports that users can access via a Web-based front end.
By David Raths Hospital prescription: A healthy dose of content management he Obama administration’s says Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a principal the whole picture. They have a lot of there is always paper in the system,” T huge funding effort to create a nationwide network of interop- erable electronic health records at CMS Watch (cmswatch.com) covering enterprise content manage- ment technologies. “Joining up the drivers in terms of cost containment pushing them to embrace a culture of information management.” says Fuhrman. OnBase is integrated into appli- cations to link documents that origi- (EHRs) has been called the biggest clinical and administrative, not to Despite the challenges they face, nate outside those systems, so that thing that’s ever happened in health mention the insurance part, is a the following examples illustrate clinicians or administrators have information technology. spectacular challenge.” how some healthcare IT leaders are access to them from within line- In fact, the American Reinvestment A hospital has many small depart- approaching the content manage- of-business applications. One exam- and Recovery Act of 2009’s HITECH ments and people don’t tend to think ment problem. Some are indeed ple is in routine pre-anesthesia Act, which promises to spend close to outside their department, he says. tackling departmental or individual evaluations before elective surgeries. $20 billion on the use of technology in Deploying enterprise content man- pain points, but as their stories sug- Referrals are faxed to the hospitals, healthcare, has even been compared to agement solutions is difficult when gest, once a solution proves itself, it along with relevant medical infor- NASA’s manned spaceflight mission to there are so many interlinking ele- often spreads to other areas of a hos- mation. Then the patient comes in for the moon in the 1960s. ments in the healthcare chain, and pital or health system. a meeting and physical exam. Previ- The federal government will offer nobody really owns the overall ously kept in a stack of paper files, Medicare and Medicaid bonuses to process from beginning to end. Integrated imaging those results are now all stored in physicians and hospitals that demon- “There is usually not one unifying solutions OnBase and available to the surgeon strate “meaningful use” of interopera- solution,” Pelz-Sharpe says, “but lots Not entirely paperless, but “paper at the click of a mouse. ble, certified EHRs starting in 2011. of departmental solutions.” light” is the term Cathy Fuhrman’s When she talks to other executives But converting patient records from Strategically, some healthcare team has coined for operations at in the field who haven’t made as much paper to electronic is only half the bat- providers have looked for a univer- San Diego-based Sharp HealthCare progress on integrating paper-based tle. On both the clinical and adminis- sal system to organize content, but (sharp.com), an integrated delivery documents, Fuhrman says they seem to trative fronts, healthcare providers face the fact is they have so many IT sys- system with four acute-care hospitals think it has to be a “big bang” solution daunting knowledge management tems implemented that many have and three specialty hospitals. Fuhrman, that costs a lot of money. “We started challenges in bringing together infor- backed off and reverted to pilot or manager of information systems, and with a low-cost solution in the claims mation from legacy, siloed depart- departmental systems, says Karen her staff have worked diligently over department of our HMO, and once we mental systems and from business Strong, a director of the Houston- the last five years to integrate Hyland saw that it worked, we rolled it out processes traditionally done on paper. based Gimmal Group (gimmal.com), Software’s (onbase.com) OnBase incrementally to other departments,” For a number of reasons, the a consultancy that helps clients with imaging solutions with the health sys- she explains. health
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