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5/25/2010
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Performance Monitoring Aims To Improve EHR Satisfaction

By monitoring system performance on the backend, an Alabama health system hopes to make its e-health record rollout go smoother for users.

When rolling out a new e-health record system, the last thing a healthcare organization wants is for clinicians to complain about how slow the system is, or even worse, being unable to access digitized patient information.

As it is, making the switch from paper records -- and paper-based processes -- to computerized record keeping, prescription ordering, and a digitized workflow can be disruptive and challenging enough for a doctor practice or hospital department. Throw in systems performance problems on the backend and the frustration will only escalate.

Avoiding those kinds of problems from the get-go is the plan at Baptist Health System of Birmingham, Ala., which operates four hospitals in the state and about 35 doctor practices and health centers.

As part of a NextGen e-health records and practice management rollout now underway at Baptist doctor practices, Baptist is also implementing Compuware EHR Service Delivery performance monitoring, which is powered by Compuware's Vantage software. The rollout of the performance monitoring tools from Compuware at the same time Baptist is implementing its digital record systems is aimed at maximizing user satisfaction with the new clinical information systems.

"As a clinic comes up, we can quickly respond" to any system performance issues that pop up, even before users notice a problem, said John West, Baptist chief technology officer. "We can set thresholds: if a system slows down, the Compuware software alerts us and we can evaluate if it's something that can be addressed during scheduled maintenance or something requiring quicker response," he said. "System availability is our number-one priority," he said.

To date, 25 out of Baptist's 35 doctor practices are using NextGen's practice management software that is hosted by Baptist, and so far one of those practices is live on the EHR. The rest of the doctor practices, which include about 70 physicians, will have the systems soon, said West.

Also coming at Baptists' four hospitals is an inpatient EHR, either from Cerner or Eclipsys -- a decision which Baptist will make in June, said West. But while the inpatient EHR package hasn't been picked yet, one thing is certain -- the performance monitoring software from Compuware will be part of that rollout, too, he said.

In addition to the e-health record systems being rolled out for Baptist doctor practices and hospitals, Baptist also plans to offer independent, Baptist-affiliated doctors in the community subscriptions to Baptist's hosted NextGen EHR and practice management software, said West. That's another key reason why system performance is so vital, West said.

"Most doctor practices are paper-based practices," he said of the local medical community. While other competing hospitals in the area will also likely offer hosted e-health records to the region's doctors, "we're trying to get a jump on this and are slightly ahead of the game," he said.

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