California hospital to roll out OpenVista by year's end

BAKERSFIELD, CA—Kern Medical Center, a county-owned 222-bed acute-care teaching hospital in Bakersfield, Calif., is set to deploy the OpenVista electronic health record by the end of the year.

Hospital executives say the health IT initiative, which will eventually touch every Kern Medical Center clinician and patient, is designed to help the organization achieve dramatic and swift clinical transformation and maximize health IT financial incentives available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Officials say OpenVista's affordability and rapid implementation process will enable the 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 patient," said Kern Medical Center CEO Paul Hensler. "It will also streamline care in Kern County and eliminate waste, workflow inefficiencies and the inappropriate duplication of services."

Hensler said OpenVista's comparatively low cost and speed of implementation cinched the deal with Carlsbad, Calif.-based Medsphere, which developed OpenVista for commercial use from the VistA system developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The pre-built OpenVista system will enable Kern officials to use the solution from day one and customize and enhance it over time to specific hospital needs, Hensler said.

"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.

"We applaud Paul Hensler and his team, and the Kern County Board of Supervisors, for making this forward-thinking choice, especially as it relates to the responsible use of public funds. The hospital is saving Kern County taxpayers money by making a sound financial decision," said Michael J. Doyle, president and CEO of Medsphere.

Under the terms of the contract, OpenVista will provide clinicians with access to clinical IT support, including computerized physician order entry (CPOE) functionality, an inpatient barcode medication administration module, a closed-loop medication management system, clinical alerts and reminders, flexible reporting tools and a portfolio of clinical templates.

Kern Medical Center can also participate in Medsphere's Healthcare Open Source Ecosystem, where clinicians, administrators and other hospital staff share and learn best practices for improving patient care from other OpenVista users.