Lutheran Medical Center Uses Medsphere’s OpenVista® EHR as “Change Agent” for Overarching Quality Improvements

Brooklyn hospital details clinical advances at Meaningful Use NOW executive conference focused on using EHRs for competitive advantage

Carlsbad, CA—November 29, 2011Lutheran Medical Center President and CEO Wendy Goldstein highlighted the use of their open source EHR as a change agent for system-wide quality improvement at the recent Meaningful Use NOW executive conference held in Weehawken, NJ. Several area hospital executives and industry thought leaders illustrated the profound clinical and financial impact open source EHRs can have on hospitals, particularly those facilities that cannot afford significantly more expensive proprietary systems. 

In November 2010, Lutheran Medical Center went live with Medsphere’s OpenVista® electronic health record (EHR) derived from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ VistA solution, the most widely used EHR in the world. Lutheran is currently readying for Meaningful Use and plans to attest for federal government reimbursement in early 2012.

A 476-bed teaching hospital, Level 1 trauma center, stroke center and ambulatory clinic, Lutheran embraced the EHR implementation process with active participation from every department, clinical to administrative.

“The EHR you choose to achieve Meaningful Use needs to be a change agent for your organization,” said Goldstein in her presentation to Meaningful Use NOW attendees. “By going with OpenVista and open source, we’ve chosen affordability and retained crucial control, including financial, over that change agent. With access to the source code, we can make changes ourselves every time regulations require a new field instead of paying a vendor $10,000 and waiting four months.”

Added Medsphere President and CEO Irv Lichtenwald: “What Lutheran Medical Center has accomplished clinically and operationally is significant and serves as a template for other hospitals. OpenVista is the catalyst to evaluate workflow and business process. It enables improved patient care, and the affordability of the solution combined with Medsphere’s subscription service model gives the hospital financial flexibility to deal with unforeseen health IT challenges in the future.”

The facility-level cultural change Goldstein spoke of served as a case study for other Meaningful Use NOW presenters, who addressed the potential collective impact of such dynamics on the entire industry.
“We need better clinical integration to improve the quality of care. There needs to be a common IT platform, a strategy that is more cost effective and allows us to tie more markets together,” said Bill Petasnick, FACHE, CEO of Wisconsin’s Froedtert Health System, and former chair of the American Hospital Association Board of Trustees. “We need an IT strategy and, perhaps, an open architecture. It may be the only way to link these markets.”

Focused on hospitals in the New York City / New Jersey area, Meaningful Use NOW was the first in a series of planned regional events related to understanding the best practices required to achieve Meaningful Use quickly and affordably. Presenters, who returned repeatedly to an overarching theme of reigning in healthcare costs, included executives from both the broader health IT industry and area hospitals that have implemented an EHR and worked through the attestation process.

“We cannot afford what we are offering in healthcare today. The question is how will we double the patients, cut price in half and improve quality,” asked Mark Blatt, MD, worldwide medical director for sales and marketing at Intel. “The VA needed to care for twice the amount of people with half the budget. What did they do? They looked to IT.”

As the architect of the VA’s transformation, former Under Secretary for Health and current Medsphere Chairman Kenneth W. Kizer, MD, MPH, made clear that, for a number of reasons, healthcare costs will continue to increase in coming years  and health IT will be foundational to managing these rising costs with the all but certain reduced reimbursement that is also coming.

“It is reasonable to expect at least a 20 to 25 percent increase in the demand for healthcare services by 2019, at the same time that we are facing widespread and worsening healthcare worker shortages,” Kizer said.

Kizer, currently Director of the Institute for Population Health Improvement, University of California Davis Health System, in Sacramento, went on to say that, “The EHR will be an essential aid for navigating the turbulent waters of healthcare reform that lie ahead. In many ways, it is like the stethoscope at the end of the nineteenth century. EHRs are a basic healthcare tool that enables us to practice medicine in a different way. And open source EHRs are the health IT game changer.”

Meaningful Use Now was sponsored by Medsphere Systems Corporation, Intel and Panasonic Solutions Company. Medsphere will organize future Meaningful Use NOW events in other regions around the United States.

About Medsphere and OpenVista