Connecticut psychiatric hospital goes for open-source EHR

Silver Hill Hospital, a nationally recognized psychiatric hospital with 129 licensed beds in the New York City suburb of New Canaan, Conn., has implemented the OpenVista electronic health record.

San Diego-based Medsphere developed OpenVista from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' VistA solution, widely credited with helping transform the VA into the nation's most efficient and clinically effective healthcare organization.

Silver Hill President Sigurd Ackerman, MD"Physicians are famous for their handwriting, so electronic order entry, which eliminates handwritten prescriptions and other orders, is intrinsic to any patient safety initiative," said Silver Hill President and Medical Director Sigurd Ackerman, MD. "Many of our physicians know VistA from their VA training rotations, making OpenVista, essentially a derivative of the VA system, pretty popular. All they wanted to know was 'how soon can we make this happen?'"

OpenVista gives Silver Hill clinicians access to a host of proven applications, Ackerman said, including three that operate in tandem to prevent medication errors—computerized physician order entry (CPOE), medication order management and a bar code medication administration application.

"Since humans will always make mistakes," noted Ackerman, "we implemented a triple-check safety process to eliminate the potential for a medication error."

With lab, pharmacy, clinical documentation and billing systems already in use, Silver Hill was 80 percent paperless before implementing OpenVista, according to Ackerman, who is also a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. However, when the hospital tried to add CPOE to the mix, they found these legacy proprietary systems were basically "unlinkable," hindering efforts to implement electronic order entry functionality. OpenVista, on the other hand, offered a clinically comprehensive EHR solution that is fully integrated - i.e., runs on a single database - and interfaces easily with other systems.

Silver Hill chose to implement all pertinent OpenVista components, including lab and pharmacy, simultaneously instead of the more common phased implementation. "We chose a 'big bang' go-live so our clinicians could enjoy easy, secure access to real-time patient information from day one," said Ackerman. "Electronic systems don't replace good medicine but they certainly help us give patients the best care possible. We were intent on reaping the greatest safety and outcomes improvements as quickly as possible."

OpenVista also features clinical documentation tools that promote efficiency and ensure clinical notes are properly recorded. "Our therapists are excited about the group notes feature," noted Ackerman. "They can now record group therapy notes in one place, and OpenVista automatically saves these notes in each patient's record, eliminating redundant recordkeeping and ensuring consistency."

"Medsphere is proud to partner with an institution of Silver Hill's caliber," said Medsphere President and CEO Mike Doyle. "Dr. Ackerman and his superb clinical staff have demonstrated tremendous vision in choosing a health IT system that provides comprehensive clinical support and doesn't strain financial resources.

The Silver Hill implementation "stands as a testament to the flexibility of open source and OpenVista's ability to adapt to diverse healthcare settings, said Medsphere president and CEO Mike Doyle.