Tampa General Receives Recognition For Electronic Conversion

Elizabeth Lindsay-Wood says it was a huge hill to climb. But she wouldn't have done it any other way.

Tampa General Hospital’s (TGH) senior VP and chief informatics officer, announced the hospital's latest milestone in its conversion from paper to electronic medical records: recognition from a nationally recognized healthcare IT company for its efforts.

HIMSS Analytics, a subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), has rated TGH's conversion a Stage 6 on its Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model. TGH is one of only 5 percent of the more than 5,300 U.S. hospitals tracked that has reached Stage 6. HIMSS Analytics' model evaluates the progress and impact of electronic medical record systems for hospitals in its national database. By tracking progress -- measured in stages from 0-7 -- hospitals can review their progress and the effects the implementation has had on quality of care.

In basic terms, what Stage 6 means is TGH has made a significant commitment to electronic medical records, is enjoying improved patient safety, clinician support, clinician recruitment as a result and is able to start evaluating data that monitor improvements.  

Lindsay-Wood says that the hospital's innovative approach is responsible for its stellar results. "There are a lot of different ways you can implement [a conversion]," says Lindsay-Wood. "A lot of hospitals do it slowly, starting with a piece of it, like documentation, while doctor's orders are still handwritten. But what we did was a big bang. We said, 'We’re gonna go live all on the same day and the same time.' The idea we are all doing it at the same time across all departments was significant.''

"It was a big hill to climb," says Lindsay-Wood. "But once you climb it you see immediate value. A doc can be in a parking lot and look at his smart phone and all the info is available to him or her to provide care to the patient. And there are alerts and reminders to help them make better decisions. These patients are so complex, so to get these reminders and alerts are so helpful. It’s so much safer and faster."

Lindsay-Wood offers the following advice to other medical entities facing conversion, which is mandatory by 2014. "Going faster gets you faster to patient safety and quality of care. Going slower doesn’t necessarily work out all the kinks. Because you really don’t know what you have until you actually use the system. You have to be integrated in your [doctor's} practices not just the hospital. You need everyone on the same record." 

Writer: Missy Kavanaugh
Source: Elizabeth Lindsay-Wood, Tampa General Hospital
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