About two years ago, 779-bed Virginia Commonwealth University Health System (VCUHS) selected Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner Corp. as its hospital information system (HIS) vendor of choice. That system, combined with IDX on the back end (now owned by Barrington, Ill.-based GE Healthcare) gave the regional teaching institution a sound technology footing to deliver optimal care, and get paid for doing so.
But after a few years on the system, VCUHS Chief Medical Information Officer Allistair Erskine noticed that getting enough PCs around the hospital so all caregivers had sufficient access to the systems was a problem. Space, he says, was limited and setting up the stations was expensive.
A better solution, Erskine thought, was empowering physicians with handheld devices by bringing the HIS to their fingertips. Luckily, MCV Physicians — a 600-doctor physician group set up as an independent entity under the overall umbrella of VCUHS — was also very interested in going mobile. A selection committee made up of revenue-cycle management and IT personnel from the health system, along with input from the practice, selected Newton, Mass.-based PatientKeeper.
In an interesting financial arrangement, the practice agreed to pay for all upfront software and implementation costs for the first year, with VCUHS picking up the tab after that. Erskine says future payment-sharing arrangements will likely be determined according to how much new money the practice pulls in as a result of the PatientKeeper software.
MVC Physicians and VCUHS have purchased PatientKeeper Physician Portal, Mobile Clinical Results, and Charge Capture to capture charges for care delivered at the bedside. Hewlett Packard 2790 devices running Windows Mobile 5 were selected for hardware. But all has not proceeded without hiccups. Erskine says glitches with the devices require occasional rebooting and need to be resolved or adoption rates will be stunted.
Integration testing of the system began in early October and Erskine says he hopes to begin going live one department at a time starting Jan. 26, with completion of the entire facility by the end of 2007. "We're doing the charge capture portion first as we see that as the meat and potatoes, while the clinical side will follow, like desert," he says.
Mike Barnick is solutions marketing manager, Systimax Solutions, headquartered in Ireland.
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