Women's Health Services Hold 'Significant' Potential in ACOs

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media , September 21, 2011

Mary Anne Graf, vice president of Women's and Children's Services at Bon Secours Richmond Health System asked her audience at HealthLeaders Media Rounds on Women's Health Strategy in Richmond, VA last week to look closely at her Power Point slide.

The slide was headlined:

"Examples of Obstetrics: Outstanding EMR (electronic medical records) Integration Experiences."

The rest of the slide was blank.

That empty space represented what Graf believed were those hospital obstetrics programs that initiated EMR programs, but were happy with their experience. Zero. "That's the list," Graf said, noting that she had spoken to many hospital executives around the country about the lack of EMR for obstetrics programs.

"It's a problem," Graf added. A hospital may invest millions into EMR, and the bulk of the business goes to medical-surgical units, she added, not obstetrics. The lack of electronic medical records could have dire consequences for patients. "You can lose a woman or a baby very quickly in the operating room, [or] in labor-delivery" without the proper medical dosages. "It's a very difficult issue that we're coming to grips with. Everywhere there has been an issue," Graf explained.

Indeed, the question of EMR integration is an issue that healthcare facilities must confront as they step up implementation of programs for women's service lines, which has significant potential for growth, Graf says.

Whether launching perinatal care programs or trying to harness electronic medical records, health systems must tap into innovative programs to realize the potential for growth in women's health programs, Graf and other panelists told the HealthLeaders Rounds audience.

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