Fitzgibbon Hospital celebrates National Health IT Week

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fitzgibbon Hospital celebrates National Health IT Week

by Richard DeFord

The pervasive role of technology is influencing the way all Americans communicate -- from "tweeting" and Facebook to the decline of traditional mediums based on paper. The movement to electronic, web-based mediums has influenced the way Americans get their news, entertainment and even how their medical care is delivered.

The advent and promotion via the Affordable Care Act of the electronic health record has drastically changed the way doctors, nurses and hospitals document the care they give to patients. A significant personnel role in today's health care provider organization now works in Health Information Technology. During the week of Sept. 15-19, the United States government is promoting the observance of Health Information Technology Week, and Fitzgibbon Hospital is joining in that observance.

The greatest difference in the delivery of healthcare in a hospital or clinic setting in 2014 versus how that care was delivered 10 years ago is the implementation of an Electronic Health Record (EHR). The Electronic Health Record is mandated by the HITECH Act, passed into law by congress as part of the 2009 economic stimulus bill.

The advantages to an EHR include greater consistency, fewer transcription errors, more rapid record compilation and even greater patient engagement, as they gain access to those records via a Patient Portal. Most U.S. hospitals, clinics and physician offices will implement an online patient portal so that patients can engage with their physicians via secure messaging, view lab results, request prescription refills, request appointments, and transfer their own health record to other physicians and providers at their discretion. The health information professionals at Fitzgibbon Hospital were on the leading edge of compliance with the provisions of the Affordable Care Act which mandated these changes.

We see our world changing every day through electronic communications, and that is definitely the case with healthcare. The IT staff at Fitzgibbon Hospital have worked hard to implement dozens of initiatives that have touched nearly every aspect of health care as it is delivered today -- from voice-recognition technology for our physician dictation systems, to enabling the electronic prescribing of patient medications to the implementation of the electronic health record and secure Patient Portal," said Ron Ott, president and CEO of Fitzgibbon Hospital. "The Fitzgibbon organization has expended significant resources to health IT -- all in the name of improving the care and safety of our patients and enhancing interoperability among the many providers of care. The doctors, nurses, pharmacists and ultimately the patient all are touched by this process."

The objectives for an EHR and implementation of the patient portal, along with corresponding financial incentives, can be found in what the federal government calls "Meaningful Use." Meaningful Use is divided in to three stages which deepen the requirements to healthcare organizations at each stage while raising the financial penalties for failure to meet stated goals. Currently Fitzgibbon Hospital is at the Stage 2 Meaningful Use level which it is scheduled to complete in 2014.

Because of the pervasiveness of IT into the health care system and the burgeoning demand for healthcare professionals, in the fall of 2013, Fitzgibbon Hospital and Missouri Valley College entered into a relationship to train these health information technology students through a new Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Systems degree. Fitzgibbon Hospital has long enjoyed the partnership with Missouri Valley College as they train nurses to meet the health needs of the community. This new technology degree advances the two organizations into an area that is poised to see substantial growth over the coming years.

We have our second intern from the Missouri Valley College HIT program with us this semester," said Tom Jones, Chief Information Officer for Fitzgibbon Hospital. "This is a collaboration which is definitely a win-win. The students get real experience within our organization, and we get the benefit of an intern eager to learn about real-world application of HIT."

Fitzgibbon Hospital currently employs seven IT professionals with differing areas of focus. Some work primarily on networks and hardware, while others work on software applications used in the delivery of healthcare and billing.

Heather McReynolds, RN-BC/BSN for Fitzgibbon Hospital made the jump from nursing to Health Information Technology in 2013 during the migration to an electronic medical record for the Fitzgibbon Hospital Home Health department.

"I enjoy working on the software to improve patient care and make our end users' jobs easier," said McReynolds.

In order to view the MyHealth Patient Portal, patients must have an individual email address, to which a secure code will be sent to allow a patient access to their records. To get started, call 660-831-3733 if you have been a patient at Fitzgibbon Hospital in the last two years. You can also stop by the Medical Records department in person. To find out more about the Missouri Valley College Health Information Systems, go to http://www.moval.edu/snhs/his/requirements.php .

Amy Weber contributed to this story.