'Late Adopters'—How Small Hospitals Can Navigate Meaningful Use

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media , November 12, 2013

While some larger systems have been able to banish paper all at once, ECRMC takes an approach that makes more sense for a system of its size. "There's unbelievable amounts of paper that flows through a healthcare system, and sometimes you just have to start in one place," Morice says.

"For some of us, that started with the medical record. Our charts are all completely electronic. Our physicians sign them all electronically. And then there are parts of the chart that we are still scanning, still paper-bound, but as time goes on and as opportunities present, our goal is to make that all paperless. But again, it's an ongoing process, and you have to fit those kinds of activities in where you can with all of the other regulatory activities. There's only so many resources, so it's not nearly going as fast as we'd like, but that's where we are."

Morice also gives credit to an outside consultancy that offered integrated system testing and a clinical help desk service, which helped ECRMC through the EHR deployment process.

"We didn't have the internal resources to man a 24-by-7 clincal help desk so we were able to outsource that to them, and now my system builders, instead of being distracted by maintenance and support, can continue building," Morice says."We brought Stoltenberg [Consulting] back in to help us with the CPOE build and on demand to support some of our other clinical systems that we don't currently have internal resources for."

So, take heart, all you CIOs of smaller hospitals just struggling through the meaningful use Stage 1 process. At the end of the process, you don't have to end up being the next HMA. The resources are there to make you as successful.

Scott Mace is senior technology editor at HealthLeaders Media.
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