Critical access hospital puts meaningful use at center stage

By Molly Merrill
10:58 AM

Kanabec Hospital, a 25-bed hospital located in Mora, Minn., is making upgrades to its electronic health record, a move that its CEO says is part of its goal for demonstrating meaningful use and operating in a paperless environment.

The hospital became the first critical access hospital to achieve the HIMSS Analytics Stage 6 designation in September 2009.

Kanabec's CEO Randy Ulseth says his staff's commitment, as well as their relationship with SISU Medical Systems, Inc., a Duluth, Minn-based I.T. consortium, were critical elements in helping them achieve Stage 6.

"SISU’s objective is to provide the direction and knowledge necessary for our members to achieve their healthcare IT goals," said Mark Schmidt the company's CIO. "Kanabec Hospital’s stage 6 achievement is a great example of how our partnership has been leveraged to do just that. Our hats are off to Kanabec’s staff for the hard work and tenacity to stay the course!”

Ulseth says this year the hospital plans to upgrade its Meditech EHR to a version that is CCHIT certified. The new version will introduce continuity of care document support, a key part of meaningful use.

"We are developing a plan and evaluating tools to increase integration between our EHR and the EHR of our local clinic. Our objective in doing this is to provide improved continuity of care for our patients and a view of the patient's complete continuum of care. We are evaluating tools to more easily extract data from our data warehouse solution, which will also benefit the organization and report measures necessary to demonstrate meaningful use," he said.

Ulseth says CCD exchange will take 12 to 24 months to completely implement, and says this timeframe is dependent on the other challenges meaningful use may bring their way.

Educating themselves on meaningful use standards is something that the hospital and its staff are undertaking as one of their IT projects, Ulseth said.

"It is our hope that the model will evolve and align itself with the meaningful use standards in order to have a better understanding of how our organization truly compares to other organizations," he said.