Doug is an R.N., has an MBA, and was also an echocardiography technologist.
Doug is a member of the MGMA.
Fort Wayne Cardiology was established in 1978 and has 21 physicians, 2 nurse practitioners and a staff of 170 nurses, medical assistants, technicians, and other ancillary and administrative professionals. Fort Wayne Cardiology has two Fort Wayne office locations, and provides services at 2 area hospitals and 10 clinics in surrounding communities within a 70 mile radius of Fort Wayne. The practice specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases in adults.
WebChart EHR, WebChart Document Management
Fort Wayne Cardiology started with WebChart Document Management to enable on-call physicians to access patient records via the Internet. The practice has slowly added functionality, migrating to WebChart EHR. All of the charts were online by the end of the 1st quarter of 2007.
"We wanted to move slowly, and we saw the opportunity to start with the basics. At the time, other EHR vendors presented more of an 'all or nothing' proposition. MIE required less change up-front from our physicians than any other EHR I looked at."
Q: What "symptoms" was your practice experiencing prior to adopting an EHR? How did these symptoms lead your practice to explore the adoption of an EHR?
As cardiologists, our physicians spend a great deal of their lives on call - probably more so than any other specialty. Without the ability to look up charts at the office, our physicians had quite a bit of work that had to be redone. Prior to WebChart, our physicians would often have to basically do a new H&P. WebChart at least put patient records at their fingertips. I am certain that WebChart has helped us avoid medication errors, by making our physicians aware of their current medications and any medications the patient is allergic to. In the old days, we had to wait until the next day when the office opened to get access to these kinds of records. We saw an immediate return on our investment with WebChart.
Q: What were some of the challenges your practice faced in deciding to adopt an EHR?
Getting all of our physicians to use a computer was a challenge. Some of our physicians were computer-phobic. Now, the vast majority of our physicians have adopted computer technology for managing clinical information and tasking. This is a work in process, and our physicians learn more every day. We have a wide continuum from physicians who do everything using a computer to those who hold onto paper charts like a security blanket.
Q: How did you overcome those challenges and decide to move forward?
We started with the carrot instead of the stick. Many EHR suppliers want physicians to change the way they treat patients, which slows them down and gets them nothing but frustrated. When physicians are on call, giving them access to records Online was a huge carrot, allowing them to save hours in a night. We always try to make it as seamless and painless as possible for our physicians. What made our physicians open to this new technology was giving them access to patient documents Online, when on call, from anywhere - at home, the office, or a hospital. When our physicians come back from a week of vacation, they could have 50+ charts waiting on their desk. Now they can access WebChart while they are gone and take care of business.
Q: What were your primary objectives when you decided to implement an EHR?
We wanted to find a partner that could implement at a pace appropriate for our practice. Maybe we could have moved faster, but it would not have been right for our practice.
Q: When you decided to adopt an EHR, why did you select MIE over other potential suppliers?
We wanted to move slowly, and we saw the opportunity to start with the basics. Other EHR vendors made it an all or nothing proposition. MIE required less change up-front from our physicians than any other EHR I looked at. We also liked the fact that you brought in leaders from other physician groups to talk with us.
Q: Is certification by organizations like CCHIT important when considering EHR suppliers?
When we were making a selection, this was not a factor. If I were making a choice today, I would certainly look at certification. If the Medicare implements programs like Pay for Performance, they will likely require use of suppliers certified by CCHIT or something similar.
Q: Describe your implementation experience - did it match your expectations? What did you learn? What surprised you?
We drug our feet and intentionally moved really slow with the EHR implementation process. We certainly had some physicians who were champions, but they were realistic about the need to appeal to the "lowest common denominator". We started by training the entire staff before bringing the physicians on board. Because we went slowly, we made fewer mistakes. We knew we would hit physician resistance if we tried to move too fast. For our physicians, their practice and their philosophy, this approach worked well. An EHR supplier has to look at each practice. You have to look at physician ages and computer skills. We have physicians in their late 30s through their 60s. While our physicians do many things the same way, each is different and adopts new ideas and new technology at varying levels.
Q: MIE strives for an implementation experience that minimizes practice upheaval. How does your experience match with that aspiration?
MIE lived up to that. MIE looks at the practice philosophy, make-up and leadership and customizes the application taking all of that into account. We prefer this approach to suppliers who say "here's our product, here's what you need to do." Other companies are starting to realize the value of this customized approach.
Q: What was the first sign of relief - the most immediate benefits your practice realized as a result of implementing WebChart from MIE? How about longer term benefits?
After we made charts available Online, the medication module was the second major addition. This is now the most important thing we do. This module is extremely important, especially when it comes to being on-call. It works very smoothly and our nurses and physicians like it.
The ability to fax reports to family doctors and referring physicians is saving us time and money. This is a huge hit, as family physicians receive reports from us immediately. We were already in the top 90 percent in getting reports back to referring physicians in a timely fashion, but now we can send reports the same day.
Overall, WebChart has improved the quality of life for physicians getting them patient information quickly and efficiently.
Q: How have others in your practice adapted to WebChart from MIE? How has the product helped them?
As with physicians, adopting WebChart from MIE has made the job overall more enjoyable. It has made us more efficient. We are still doing the same things we did before, but now we are doing them differently. We now have the ability for several people at the same time and in multiple locations to look at patient information without pulling a chart. Before, 5 people might need information from a chart. We had to pull it, copy the information, and send it to everyone. In the process, we sometimes lost track of charts. Even with chart tracking technology, paper charts get lost. Now everything is available Online.
Q: What are your favorite aspects of WebChart? Do you have any tips or secret shortcuts?
The medications module is one of the most important things about WebChart. Knowing which medications your patient is on is a key aspect. Every week you see articles in medical journals on problems associated with medicine errors and complications. This WebChart module helps eliminate medication redundancies and complications.
Q: MIE describes its EHR philosophy as minimally invasive - an experience that can be customized to individual practice and physician workflows, does not create massive practice upheaval, and that is affordable. How does your experience with MIE match up with this minimally invasive approach?
I think this philosophy is the key feature that got us involved with MIE. We were attracted by the ability to go at our own pace versus suppliers who said, "Here's our product, here's how you have to implement." Minimally Invasive EHR is a great concept.