April Floyd, PA
Serving our most Rural Areas
Best practice in health information technology can be found in our most rural areas of Texas. An ideal example can be found at Crane Rural Health Clinic, characterized as a medically underserved rural health clinic, approximately 35 miles south of any nearby urban area and located in Crane, Texas. As do many cities in rural areas, Crane serves as a central health care location for many of its smaller surrounding communities.
The staff and administrators at Crane Rural Health Clinic believe in improving patient care by utilizing a certified electronic health record (EHR) system they adopted in December 2011. This is evident in one of their providers’ accomplishment in meeting Meaningful Use in September.
April Floyd, a physician’s assistant of the clinic, began practicing medicine in September 2009. She was recently named a Meaningful Use Vanguard (MUVer) by the West Texas Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (WTxHITREC) for her leadership in the national EHR transition.
Floyd’s recognition is an initiative of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology designed to honor, thank and bring together clinicians and hospitals that have successfully implemented EHRs. Floyd has earned the distinction as a leader in health information technology.
Floyd said she was eager to meet Meaningful Use because she said EHRs give her the capability to better manage her patients’ care.
"It allows monitoring capabilities for specific diseases and conditions and it also allows us to provide educational tools to the patient so that the patient can be informed of their condition," Floyd said.
EHRs have great capabilities but at times can provide challenges — but certainly resolvable challenges the majority of the time, Floyd said. These types of situations do happen but a well-managed EHR system does require team effort.
"One of the challenges that we faced in our rural health clinic included not receiving alerts about the use of certain medications against diseases," Floyd said. "Our IT department set up prompts and alerts that would allow us to monitor the use of certain medications when associated with a diagnosis. For example, for CHF patients that are on Lasix, we are prompted to check potassium. The IT department also set up prompts to give smoking cessation education to those that have tobacco abuse in their history or problem list."
Crane Rural Health Clinic chose to achieve Meaningful Use even though they were not eligible to receive the provider-based incentive. Floyd said this is because the overall idea of Meaningful Use is to improve patient care and create more efficient facilities.
“Even though we did not qualify to receive incentive money, we still saw the value in meeting Meaningful Use,” Floyd said. “I think that it gives patients more opportunity to participate in their health care."
Floyd continued by stating "Joe Huerta with the WTxHITREC helped provide us with the requirements we needed in order to attest for Meaningful Use and showed us where we were lacking."
Stonewall Memorial Hospital Achieves Meaningful Use!
Stonewall Memorial Hospital in Aspermont, TX has been recognized as a Meaningful Use Vanguard by the WTxHITREC for its leadership in the national electronic health record (EHR) transition!
An article was featured on June 7th in the Stonewall County Courier to celebrate their achievement. Administrator Andy Kolb and Health Information Technology Director Billie Carter, LVN, CPhT accepted this award on behalf of the hospital. The recognition is an initiative of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology designed to honor, thank and bring together clinicians and hospitals that have successfully implemented EHR’s.
Celebrating Achievement: Dr. Carolyn Rhode and Dr. Joseph Rhode
Being progressive with health IT, is something that Carolyn Rhode, M.D. likes to always keep on the forefront and has provided her with success. Dr. Rhode and her husband, Joseph Rhode, M.D., began practicing medicine in 1982 and started Midland Family Physicians to serve West Texas families. Over the years they grew their practice and kept up with the advancement surrounding healthcare IT and the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs).
When asked at what point they decided to go-live on EHRs, Dr. Rhode not only gave an approximate time, she remembered the exact day they made the switch from paper charts to EHRs, July 3, 2006. Almost six years later, with the development of meaningful use standards and great efforts by her and the staff at Midland Family Physicians, they were able to attest to meeting meaningful use in January 2012, as one of the first providers to achieve this goal as a member of the West Texas Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (WTxHITREC). Through these efforts, Dr. Rhode has become a member of the Meaningful Use Vanguard program, otherwise known as a MUVer. MUVer is an exclusive group of EHR physician champions across the country that promote EHR adoption and meaningful use. They serve as local leaders, advisors and role models in the move toward an electronically-enabled health care system.
Dr. Rhode feels as though the adoption of EHRs has been a great addition to her office and continues to support their practice of providing quality care. “We chose to go with the system, e-MDs EHR, as well as the fully integrated billing system, which has been very helpful and allows us to bill more efficiently and have all information retrievable.” She feels their system has been very intuitive and has allowed for great communication from the front to the back office and creates a more seamless patient visit with “patient information at their fingertips.”
When asked how the adoption of an EHR helped improve patient care, Dr. Rhode commented on the effectiveness in managing patient annual vaccinations, keeping up with reminders, and making sure the practice continues to focus on preventative measures. “It’s just a more efficient way to operate, eliminates confusion due to illegibility, and it’s great to not have to search for lost charts”, stated Dr. Rhode.
Healthcare providers are often concerned that their productivity will suffer once an EHR has been implemented, but with a carefully-matched system that makes sense for their practice and appropriate training the turnaround can be swift. Dr. Rhode stated “there was a period of adjustment when we went live on the EHR, but we were able to reach our previous patient volumes within six weeks of implementation”. She went on to state, “providers that are looking to purchase an EHR must look at many to make the best decision and visit others who actually use the systems they are interested in. Practices will be successful who choose the right system, attend extra training, and plan for the switch.”
When asked, how has the WTxHITREC supported your efforts Dr. Rhode commented, “It is a tremendous relief to have this kind of backup. The Regional Extension Center provided invaluable assistance, helping us through the registration and attestation process with CMS and has begun to provide work flow analysis to support more efficient use of our system.”