Making the quality connection
From the beginning, the federal government sought to leverage the meaningful-use requirements in the electronic health-record incentive payment program to get providers to think about what the systems might do besides taking, storing and regurgitating patient records.
Dr. Arun Mathews and his colleagues at the 306-bed Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Texas, got the drift. They used Stage 1 meaningful use as a catalyst not only to install computerized physician order entry, but also to do it in a way that analyzed physician usage of the order sets available through the CPOE system. Reports based on that analysis were used as part of a program of outreach to physicians. The idea was to engage them in more fully using CPOE and taking a more active part in clinical quality improvement efforts. Mathews, a 2013 winner of an AMDIS Award from the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems and the hospital’s CMIO, used analytics to measure order set usage, assessing physician ordering patterns and areas of weakness. But it wasn’t all data. People power was key to the program, too. Mathews’ outreach program included a structured discussion process led by “physician engagement specialists” who had good people skills to go along with their clinical and technical expertise.
Mathews, 36, an internist who did a fellowship in informatics at Johns Hopkins, came to Odessa in 2010 just as the hospital began work on implementing an EHR.
“The CEO found out that I had this informatics background,” Mathews says. “He worked with the CIO and said they’d like a physician working throughout this process. ‘We’d like to make you CMIO.’ We went live with our CPOE journey in June 2012 and made our M/U targets a couple of months later.”