EMR can be a powerful agent of change in the right hands

Charlie Neimeth

In April, I attended Dr. Peter Basch’s Million Hearts™ presentation at Centricity-Live (http://www.ge-health-it-views.com/ge-health-it-views/what-is-the-cost-of-a-heart/). Dr. Basch and his organization, MedStar, are part of a national effort to prevent heart attack and stroke with a goal of 1 million fewer heart attacks by 2017 (http://millionhearts.hhs.gov/index.html). The presentation at Centricity Live described how MedStar is using Centricity Practice Solution (CPS) as a part of their Million Hearts initiative.

This is a great Meaningful Use case study. MedStar has adopted healthcare IT, their physicians are using it and they are driving improved outcomes. MedStar’s program shows the transformative power of healthcare IT in the hands of strong leaders at an organization with the will to make it work.

Their EMR is providing the data and workflow tools necessary to support this population health management initiative. CPS is helping doctors identify which patients need help and then reminding them what to do. Patient registries are used for targeted intervention, and clinical decision support prompts providers what to do. “The EMR is a virtual tug on the sleeve to remind us about what we would already do” said Dr. Basch.

Peter has been leading the charge – aligning the organization and ensuring physician participation. They have built and deployed special CPS forms for the program and physician engagement has been strong. The system helps providers by showing patient status against goals and providing prompts for indicated next steps. With the tools in place and a willing provider community, they are already seeing progress towards their “ABC”goals – moving the meter on key metrics like aspirin use, blood pressure control, cholesterol management and smoking cessation.

MedStar’s efforts were recently featured in ONC’s Million Hearts webinar where their program was heralded as a working example of the kind of proactive framework for wellness and disease prevention the country needs as we move to the era of population health management. It also shows how including an EMR in a clinical program that makes sense to providers will drive the alignment and new behavior that can make a difference – improving health outcomes and saving lives. It’s clear that early successes like these are dependent on great programs conceived and executed by thought leaders like Dr. Basch. But they are paving the way, documenting the value and setting the standards that others will follow. When that day comes, EMR will be a powerful agent of change in the hands of many.


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