July 28, 2011

VUMC’s StarPanel to undergo federal certification process

VUMC’s StarPanel to undergo federal certification process

As part of “Meaningful Use,” a component of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, Vanderbilt University Medical Center will undergo a certification process for its electronic health record system, StarPanel, beginning in August.

Certification is a first step toward alignment with federally mandated standards for the HITECH Act, legislation which requires health care providers to adopt more meaningful and comprehensive uses for electronic health record, or EHR, systems to improve quality and efficiency of care.

Although incentive payments and penalties are both part of the move toward adaptation of Meaningful Use, the move toward broader adaptation of StarPanel and its various components (such as RxStar) fits with VUMC’s longstanding mission as health care information technology innovators. Meaningful Use will improve patient care by enhancing teamwork and communication among all providers.

Greater adaptation of EHR use will also improve data collection capabilities, integral for more closely measuring clinical outcomes in real time and for gathering research data. All aspects associated with greater EHR adaptation will further cement VUMC’s reputation as a national leader in health information technology innovation.

Meaningful use certification ensures hospitals and other providers’ EHR systems perform with specific functionality equal to or exceeding standards set forth by HITECH.

Pre-certified software packages can be purchased for new adapters. However, StarPanel was self-designed and implemented at VUMC years ago, so each module must go through a certification process.

“It has been a challenge because Vanderbilt was an early adopter of health record technology, long before the federal requirements were set,” said David Hall, who, along with Eric Boehme, is a subject matter expert for certification and meaningful use. “We have very innovative systems, especially in provider order entry and decision support, but we’re missing capabilities in other areas.

“To the credit of our leadership, we’re not doing this work just to meet HITECH requirements. We want all of it to be clinically meaningful.”

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has designated third-party vendors to perform certification tests, and VUMC has chosen the Drummond Group.

“We worked with them earlier in the year to help them develop their Certification Roadmap program, which is geared toward electronic health records that are developed in-house, like ours,” Boehme said.

In August and September, both the ambulatory and inpatient electronic health record systems will be put through four days of testing on 70 scripts, including privacy and security testing.

In one script example, Boehme said, “The tester will go in and enter blood pressure and weight values provided by Drummond and save the changes. Then they will pull up the record to ensure those values are accurate. Then they will modify the blood pressure and weight to new values, save and pull up again to see if the values update.”

To ensure VUMC’s EHR systems can meet all required scripts, new functions have been included, such as being able to provide a clinical summary within three days and the capacity to capture ethnicity data consistently. The system also must be able to provide an electronic copy of specified portions of a patient’s EHR and be able to exchange this information with other institutions.

“It’s about making everything electronic and interoperable. The format the information will be in is standardized so all people and all systems possessing the capability can read it,” Boehme said.

Changes to the EHR are currently undergoing a pilot phase in the Adult Primary Care Center and the Heart and Vascular Institute, testing their functionality before broader rollout. A special focus is being placed on adapting broader use of these tools into providers’ workflow.

“Work has been going into certification for well over a year,” Boehme said. “We’re looking forward to seeing all the pieces come together in the actual testing phase and achieving certification.”

For more information about the certification process, see VUMC’s project website at http://projects/PWA/ARRA_HITECH_EHR/default.aspx (employee login required).