HIMSS Stage 7 benefits: Unified staff, quality improvement, positioning for health reform

Children's Mercy Kansas City shows how reaching the top of the Outpatient EMR Adoption Model has paid dividends across the organization.
By Bill Siwicki
02:23 PM
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Children's Mercy Kansas City

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Achieving Stage 7, the top stage, in the HIMSS Analytics Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model is quite a feat. It shows that a healthcare provider organization is playing at the top of its game in health IT.

Children's Mercy Kansas City has achieved HIMSS Stage 7 on the ambulatory side, joining an elite group of just 10.8 percent of health systems. The achievement comes with many benefits.

Achieving HIMSS Stage 7 required significant buy-in and collaboration from clinical and business leaders across the organization, said David Chou, chief information and data officer at Children's Mercy Kansas City.

"The stakeholders were required to unite around utilizing best practices in workflow and technology and renew the commitment to continuous process and technology improvements in order to pursue a safe, high-quality care for our patients and achieve this designation," he said.

"Physician, nursing, pharmacy, quality improvement, regulatory and compliance, radiology, HIM, decision support, and information systems and medical informatics leaders were a part of the core team that reviewed requirements, ensured risks were mitigated and that staff was prepared for the HIMSS Stage 7 discussions," Chou explained.

That common understanding of goals reinforced the health system's commitment to being united in its commitment to improve safety and quality of care for patients, he added.

EHR implementation continues to be a journey instead of a destination. Through projects such as the Stage 7 work, the hospital is able to reinforce the message in its organization that constantly improving process and technology leads to better patient care and operational efficiencies, Chou said.

"By building processes and a culture to support continuous optimization of our digital tools, we have streamlined workflows for staff, implemented tools that put our patients at the forefront and improved our quality of care, which has resulted in significant improvements of our outcomes and patient experience," he explained.

"Clinical leaders and business leaders see the value in continuous improvement after the project and are supporting additional improvements that will drive an improved patient experience," he added.

Children's Mercy Kansas City is ahead when it comes to leveraging analytics and dashboards to drive clinical decisions and to the adoption and integration of technology.

"As a result of implementing technology that allowed us to achieve HIMSS Level 7, we are well-positioned to adapt to the many demands of healthcare reform and coming changes in payment models," said Chou. "As a LEAN organization, we have been focused on True North success metrics for all areas of the hospital and building a culture of data-driven decision making."

With the technology implemented to support these initiatives, the distinction of achieving Stage 7 has been a benefit, he added.

Children's Mercy Kansas City is now working on achieving HIMSS Stage 7 for its inpatient side, said Laura Fitzmaurice, chief medical information officer. "We currently are evaluating our gaps with the newly released requirements," she said.

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Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com