An innovative regional health information organization (RHIO), formed by four Texas hospitals, is serving as a model for electronic health record (EHR) adoption in rural health organizations across the country. The RHIO, which flipped the switch on the Houston-based ChartAccess Comprehensive EHR from Prognosis Health Information Systems on October 20, is proving that small community hospitals can band together to quickly tap into the clinical and operational benefits associated with EHRs—and work toward reaching the meaningful use milestones required to receive incentive funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Ted Matthews, CEO of 45-bed Anson (Texas) General Hospital, is working closely with Rick DeFoore from 25-bed Stamford (Texas) Memorial Hospital, Debra Meador from 20-bed Stonewall Memorial Hospital, Aspermont, Texas, and Randy King from 14-bed Throckmorton (Texas) County Memorial Hospital to collectively utilize the EHR technology in an effort to improve care in the region. The CEOs at the four hospitals, which are located within 35 miles of each other, put aside competitive concerns and are banding together to overcome the financial and operational hurdles typically associated with technology implementations.
To jump start the initiative, Matthews wrote a grant proposal and secured about $500,000 in funding to help overcome some of the initial obstacles to implementing an electronic records system.
To support the innovative model, the hospitals are collectively tapping into ChartAccess Comprehensive EHR, a shared, web-native EHR solution. Delivered via a "cloud computing" model, where the software applications are made available as a service over an encrypted health information network, the EHR provides clinicians with a complete view of patient data to support optimal and safe clinical care. Users can simply access the system by using a standard operating system and a secure browser.