June 9, 2011

Health information technology takes center stage at Leadership Assembly

Featured Image

Country music artist Darius Rucker, second from left, made a special appearance at Tuesday’s Leadership Assembly. Greeting the singer backstage were, from left, Jeff Balser, M.D. Ph.D., Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., Traci Nordberg, Marilyn Dubree, MSN, R.N., Maranatha Thom and C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

Health information technology takes center stage at Leadership Assembly

More than 800 Clinical Enterprise leaders from across Vanderbilt University Medical Center were treated Tuesday to informative sessions about coming operational changes that will result in broader use of the Medical Center’s powerful health care information technology systems, updates on quarterly performance and even a brief appearance by Hootie and the Blowfish alum and country music artist Darius Rucker, who was on hand to be acknowledged for his support of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center.

With changes to health care delivery and reimbursement on the near horizon, VUMC leaders will be focusing on working smarter and with greater efficiency. Immediately, this means adopting more comprehensive and consistent use of health care information technology in the delivery of patient care.

This message was delivered at Tuesday’s quarterly Leadership Assembly in Langford Auditorium. Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, introduced attendees to the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) and the concept of “meaningful use.”

Balser said many places are installing electronic medical record systems, but are not leveraging the technology to tangibly improve patient care.

“An electronic health record isn’t valuable unless it improves the way we manage patients. “Meaningful use” brings focus to how to use the electronic health record to do things better,” he said.

The HITECH Act offers $27 billion in federal incentives for hospitals that adopt meaningful use of electronic health records. These incentives could mean as much as $10 million to VUMC during fiscal year 2012.

Current plans call for full implementation of inpatient systems by the end of calendar year 2011, and implementation across VUMC’s entire inpatient and outpatient systems by the end of calendar 2012.

A stipulation of the HITECH Act calls for incentives to be reverted into fines for those centers that have not fully implemented electronic systems by 2015.

“Opting out is no longer an option, and the truth is, much of the value comes from everybody being in. If you’re a patient, you want all of your health information in the electronic medical record, not just some of it. We’re going to be at 100 percent because that’s where the real value lies for our patients,” Balser said.

Implementing universal adaptation of these electronic tools will give VUMC’s patients and providers access to continuously updated problem, medication and allergy lists. The electronic medical record will be the communication backbone for inpatient and outpatient care, allowing for such advantages as team summaries that will show what treatment course has been undertaken by each individual service caring for a patient.

C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., delivers the quarterly update at Tuesday's assembly in Langford Auditorium. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., delivers the quarterly update at Tuesday's assembly in Langford Auditorium. (photo by Mary Donaldson)

Patients will receive a care summary, populated with information from the electronic medical record, upon discharge or after a clinic visit. Other advantages include all prescriptions being transmitted electronically to pharmacies. Built-in decision support tools will enable medication reconciliation and evidence-based prescribing in the outpatient setting that rivals our existing inpatient drug order entry systems.

More than 146,000 patients are now using MyHealthatVanderbilt, which will be enhanced with new features, including schedule-based medication reminders, two-way video conferencing, and areas for patients to self-manage their disease, such as a blood pressure diary.
Balser said goals of the HITECH Act are in perfect alignment with Medical Center technologies and strategies that are already in place as a national leader in health care information management. Broad implementation of the HITECH Act’s mandates will only help enhance VUMC’s national reputation.

“We’re going to be in the spotlight as all of this is occurring,” he said.

C. Wright Pinson, MBA, M.D., deputy vice chancellor for Health Affairs and CEO of the Vanderbilt Health System, delivered the quarterly performance update based on the Five Pillars – People, Service, Quality, Growth and Finance, and Innovation.

People – The rate of retention at 18 months after hire continues to increase and has hit the reach goal at 69.4 percent. Overall turnover is steady and low, but somewhat higher than in the prior fiscal year, as the economy has improved.

Service – The rate of new patients seen within 15 days has risen to 56.3 percent, and is on track to meet the threshold goal for the fiscal year. Recent market surveys show VUMC has by far the highest overall preference of consumers in the Nashville area, and for the first time ever is the region’s preferred provider for heart care.

Quality – Hand hygiene compliance rates have hit the threshold goal at 88 percent. Pressure ulcer and fall adverse event rates are below threshold, but new prevention campaigns are rolling out.

Growth and Finance – After renewed focus to increase clinical efficiency and throughput, there has been a dramatic increase in ambulatory visits and surgical cases since February.

Innovation – The Diagnostic Management Team is emphasizing the “Right test for the right patient at the right time” in Hematologic Malignancy and is projecting $2 million in annual savings through streamlining testing.

“It is going to get tough, and we have got to keep working on efficiency and focusing on these innovations to make care better and less expensive,” Pinson said. “We do have great advantages with our information technology, but it’s also the simple things – taking care of our employees, working hard to get patients in within two weeks, washing hands and participating in monitoring these processes.”

The assembly concluded with a special appearance by Rucker, who recently appeared on the 2011 Academy of Country Music Awards with 25 young adults with developmental disabilities. They performed “Music From the Heart,” written last summer at the ACM Lifting Lives Music Camp held at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for people with Williams Syndrome, autism and other disabilities.

During the broadcast, viewers were given the opportunity to donate to the Kennedy Center, resulting in 4,000 individual contributions so far. A video of the performance has since gone viral with more than 200,000 views on YouTube.

“That moment for me, I could never explain to you. That was just something I will never forget,” Rucker said.

Rucker’s mother worked as a nurse at the Medical University of South Carolina, and he is passionate about the work of academic health centers.

“I do as much as I can for things that are important to me. I don’t know any other way. I’m a comic book geek and Spider Man says, ‘With great power comes great responsibility,’ and I believe that and try to live by that,” he said.

To view slides used in all presentations, go to the elevate website (employee login required).

To make a suggestion, visit the vice chancellor's online suggestion box at http://www.mc.vanderbilt.edu/suggestionbox.