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Healthcare Process Improvement Network

Health Care

Electronic Medical Records Can’t Cut It Alone

Health care organizations turn to process excellence to fill efficiency gap

Published: Wednesday, July 28, 2010 - 08:01

(Healthcare Process Improvement Network: London) -- The notion of meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) was clarified on July 13 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), clearing the way for health care providers to tap into the potential $27 billion government funding, provided they can demonstrate their ability to adopt certified EHR technology and achieve specified objectives. Coupled with the 2015 deadline set by the Obama administration to demonstrate this, the policy is going to significantly benefit both the providers of such systems in the near future and of course, the patients themselves.

“If you want to improve the quality of care, you need to be able to accurately measure what’s going on,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says. “You want to promote greater coordination among doctors. You need to quickly move health information to wherever it’s needed at the appropriate time.”

This improvement is essential if the U.S. health care system is to continue to function under the pressure of aging baby boomers and reform bills. But health care providers must be reminded that technology is only the enabler; EHRs are not the end, they are the means, according to Tejas Gandhi, assistant vice president of management engineering at Virtua Health in Marlton, New Jersey. Gandhi has been heavily involved with the implementation of Virtua Health’s electronic medical records system coupled with its process improvement program.

Implementation of EHRs is one piece of the puzzle, claims Gandhi; and the puzzle essentially is process improvement within each part of the health care sector. Process improvement strategies using methodologies such as lean and Six Sigma can help guarantee increased efficiency which carries through to improved patient care.

Organizations across the nation are starting to see the value of this approach as is evident by the creation of communities such as the Healthcare Process Improvement Network (H-PIN). Created with the sole purpose of improving process efficiency, H-PIN’s mission statement is the promotion of lean Six Sigma, process improvement, and operational excellence philosophies within the health care sector to ensure the continued provision of safe, efficient, and high-quality patient care.

The adoption of EHRs may increase by 10 to 12 percent during the next few years according to Charlie Jarvis, a vice president at NextGen Healthcare. The move to electronic medical records systems could have a substantial effect on health care as long as technology and process improvement go hand in hand toward realizing efficiency.

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About The Author

Healthcare Process Improvement Network

The Healthcare Process Improvement Network, part of SixSigmaIQ.com and the International Quality and Productivity Center (IQPC), provides quality, operations and process improvement functions across the health care industry with access to essential information surrounding the application of lean, Six Sigma, and process improvement methodologies usiing online and face-to-face knowledge exchange and networking.

The IQPC has an established reputation for delivering the highest standard of industry specific conferences, seminars, and internal training programs. Its aim is to keep business executives up to date with the forefront of their industries’ trends, technological developments, and regulatory landscape.