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CIO Bill Phillips on the value of HIMSS EMRAM

University Health System (UHS) of San Antonio, Texas, has earned a number of awards and distinctions over the years. In 2008 the academic medical center was one of the first healthcare organizations to achieve a prestigious Stage 6 in the HIMSS Analytics’ Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM).

UHS has shown national leadership in early successes for integrating information flow and patient care from Ambulatory to Acute, as well as a host of other care locations and data sources outside of the immediate hospital.  Only 10% of hospitals hold this distinction in the U.S., and only 2% have achieved the final level, Stage 7.

We recently interviewed UHS Chief Information Officer, Bill Phillips, for his perspective on EMRAM. Here are a few highlights from that interview:

Q. Why was achieving Stage 6 through HIMSS EMRAM important to UHS?

A. This is a really big deal for us, from a recognition standpoint. We’re one of the first organizations in our community to accomplish it, so it really sets us apart.

Q. What was the process like to achieve Stage 6?

A. It’s been a while ago now. We submitted our application, which covered things like what version of software we’re on, proving 99% orders on CPOE, and other details about our physician documentation. They followed up with phone verification – sort of like an interview process.

We were prepared, so it was pretty easy. There were a lot of similarities to this process and ones for Meaningful Use and Most Wired.  We were just able to be way ahead of the curve.

Q.  How is EMRAM similar to Meaningful Use?

A.  Many Meaningful Use Stage1 and 2 objectives are part of HIMSS EMRAM validation. Both initiatives showcase our commitment to electronic medical records.  EMRAM just goes further with use of advanced technology and therefore helps ensure we demonstrate positive patient outcomes.

Q. Does UHS want to achieve Stage 7?

A. Yes, it just proves our commitment to the well-being of patients. When you see a hospital at the highest level, you know you’re getting good care for the investment.  It will mean we’ve gone as far as organizations such as Kaiser Permanente. We are headed to Stage 7 – no question.  We plan on applying very, very soon.

Q. What will it take for UHS to achieve Stage 7?

A. We have figured out exactly what we need to do to get there. We’ll need to demonstrate things like sharing clinical information via CCD with all entities that are authorized to treat the patient and demonstrate summary data continuity for all hospital services.

Q. What benefits does UHS get from these HIMSS EMRAM ratings?

A. Stage 6 and Stage 7 are prestigious. We’re able to attract and retain better IT staff and clinicians.  It’s really an advantage to us when we can prove to our patients we’re doing a good job. People are looking for “A”s when they look at safety and quality scores. With these ratings, we can prove we’re doing the right things for patients.

Maybe more important than the prestige, though, is what it means for our patients and clinicians – Stage 7 means they will all benefit from better clinical connectivity across the venues of care.  That’s safer, more efficient and more cost-effective care.


For clients who want to learn more about how to participate in the HIMSS EMR Adoption Model, Allscripts will co-host a webinar with HIMSS Analytics.  Join us for this free webinar on Thursday, November 7 at 1 p.m. Eastern time.  Register here.

What is your experience with HIMSS EMRAM? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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