Kern selects OpenVista to Maximize Stimulus Funds

SAN DIEGO – In order to maximize financial incentives, Kern Medical Center of Bakersfield, Calif., has plans to employ Medsphere Systems’ OpenVista electronic health record (EHR) by the end of 2010.

The strategy is designed to help KMC achieve clinical transformation and maximize health IT financial incentives available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

OpenVista will enable the county-owned medical center to cut costs and streamline care for more than 100,000 acute and ambulatory care patients each year while using federal ARRA stimulus funds to pay for the system in total.

"We are confident OpenVista will, most importantly, improve the safety and quality of care for our patients; it will also streamline care in Kern County, and eliminate waste, workflow inefficiencies and the inappropriate duplication of services," said Kern Medical Center CEO Paul Hensler, FACHE.

We didn't think any other system could be implemented fast enough for us to qualify for the first year of federal funding, he said.

Under the ARRA legislation, eligible hospitals that implement and meaningfully use an EHR by the 2011 deadline will receive millions of federal dollars through increased Medicare reimbursements between 2011 and 2014. The incentives become penalties for hospitals that have not implemented an EHR by 2015.

"The partnership with Kern Medical Center demonstrates Medsphere's ability to provide hospitals with a safe, reliable and cost-effective solution that has a proven return on investment," said Michael J. Doyle, president and CEO of Medsphere. "The hospital is saving Kern County taxpayers money by making a sound financial decision."

Comprehensive clinical health IT adoption by U.S. medical facilities remains low (roughly 1.5 percent according to the New England Journal of Medicine) largely due to the costs associated with implementing an EHR. Many hospitals have avoided these barriers by implementing commercialized open source versions of the VistA system developed by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.