Kirkland hospital makes tracking patient medical records easy and efficient through Meaningful Use program

In 2011, the U.S. Federal Government launched an incentive-based Meaningful Use program designed to increase the adoption of electronic medical records (EMR) at hospitals and healthcare facilities across the nation. Kirkland hospital EvergreenHealth enrolled in the program during its infancy in an effort to make sharing and tracking its patients’ medical records easier and more efficient.

Meaningful Use

Techs monitor patient vital signs in the centralized monitoring room at EvergreenHealth’s Kirkland campus. Photo courtesy EvergreenHealth.

EvergreenHealth’s Director of Information Technology, Jamie Trigg, said there are many benefits to this program, both for EvergreenHealth and its patients.

“The primary objective is to be able to track and share EMR information across the country,” Trigg said. “The end goal is to be able to track down your medical record and understand information about your medical record, regardless of where you might be.”

Other objectives of the program include increased patient engagement and improving the overall quality of patient outcomes.

“A great example of this is, before Meaningful Use, our Evergreen employed physicians were on various electronic medical record systems that had various capabilities and functions within them,” Trigg explained. “As a result of Meaningful Use they are now on a Meaningful Use certified EMR called CERNER, and that electronic medical record is the exact same EMR that’s being used in the hospital, by all of our primary care physicians, and a majority of our specialists. How that benefits our patients is that when they go to see their primary care physician or a specialist and then they’re seen at the hospital, we can view their longitudinal medical record and do a much better job of treating our patients because we have their electronic medical record at our fingertips.”

With so many benefits, EvergreenHealth knew early on that the Meaningful Use program was something it wanted to adopt, but the hospital had already started on its EMR implementation journey back in 2003, before the introduction of the Meaningful Use program. This gave EvergreenHealth a head start, making it easier to adopt the program and meet objectives right out of the gate.

Meaningful Use

EvergreenHealth Medical Center in Kirkland. Photo courtesy Evergreen Health.

“It’s one of those programs where initially there was a carrot involved, meaning there were incentives for meeting the objectives,” Trigg explained. “That in combination with our desire and our goal to deliver the most quality and value-based outcomes for our patients, those two things combined were compelling enough for us.”

Since enrolling in the program five years ago, EvergreenHealth has achieved stage two status in the Meaningful Use program. Trigg said there are currently three stages, but the stages are subject to change.

In the meantime, Trigg said EvergreenHealth plans to continue working with its providers to meet more objectives, serving as an example for other healthcare facilities in the area. “A majority of our competitors are participating, but of those other regional providers, we are in the top tier,” Trigg said.

Moving forward, EvergreenHealth is excited to continue meeting objectives and providing better care for its patients.

“The healthcare industry’s ability to innovate and harness the power of technology will determine its success at meeting the needs of patients and communities in the 21st century,” EvergreenHealth Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy and Information Officer, Tom Martin, said. “EvergreenHealth is proud to be at the forefront of this innovation, adopting sound technology systems and processes to improve communication and coordination of care, and ultimately elevate the quality of care delivery.”