CMIO Magazine: Tell me a little bit about your background and about HealthFirst
Richard: I’ve been with HealthFirst for about 14 years and currently I serve as the SVP of support services, responsible for IT, medical equipment, and clinical engineering. I also set the strategic planning and vision for each business unit. HealthFirst is a $1 billion corporation comprising of 3 hospitals, with the 4th hospital under construction. We have about 6500 EFTs, one of the largest employers in Brevard and Palm Bay Florida. Other services include outpatient centers, the county’s only trauma center, home care, specialized programs for cancer, diabetes, heart, stroke, and rehabilitative services, central Brevard’s largest medical group, three fitness centers, Medicare Advantage, commercial POS, and commercial HMO health plans.
CMIO Magazine: What key clinical projects are you working on?
Richard: The top three clinical projects would have to be Physician Order Management, the implementation of a new Pharmacy system along with the implementation of electronic medication administration record (eMAR) roll-out.
CMIO Magazine: What Lexmark products or services should hospitals and other providers know about but probably don’t?
Richard: As part of our electronic medical record (EMR) implementation some time ago, output management became an issue. We were dealing with multiple types of equipment such as printers and fax devices in our units and this model put a great deal of support demands on our technical and implementation staff. We didn’t have a good system for handling printer cartridges, a nurse would overstock to minimize downtime so we had inventory and storage issues. We also faced challenges with our leased copier and fax machines. We support physicians outside of our network in the community so not having good control over our processes can be inefficient and costly. Thus, we began the process of looking to standardize, consider consolidation and add new functionality where appropriate. We went through a vendor selection and decided to contract with Lexmark. We ended up reducing costs and introduced additional functionality such as scanning using a single device that can also print and fax. We ended up outsourcing the equipment services to Lexmark in over 80 locations that we support.
CMIO Magazine: How has Lexmark solutions made a difference in patient experience?
Rich: The patient experience has improved by allowing our physicians, nursing staff and the support team to spend more time focusing on patient care rather than dealing with malfunctioning device issues. Also, given the staff’s ability to scan documents right in the clinical areas rather than sending them to medical records for processing, we’re more efficient and effective in handling paper which gives our patients a sense or trust that their documents are protected and secured. We’re also able to handle patient instructions in a more effect and personal manner. With Lexmark solutions, we’re able to print patients instructions with a patient’s name and any specific directions personalized for each patient. We’re also able to handle our remote locations as some of them have 1-2 physicians with little support for administrative work.
CMIO Magazine: Bad economic conditions are sure to hit healthcare providers hard with more uncompensated care and tougher lending markets. When IT costs come under the microscope, how can technology, including that provided by Lexmark, prove that it’s paying its way?
Richard: We also reduced the number of carriers who transported medical records, lab results or similar types of documents from one location to another by centralizing Lexmark’s data scanning and retrieval solution. By providing standard processes and devices, we can train nursing and support staff faster and utilize their services across the system which has helped us reduce the need to hire outside nursing support via different agencies.
CMIO Magazine: Any closing remarks?
By standardizing the equipment and the output [printing, faxing and scanning] of our workflows, we have a more efficient organization. We have a much better handle on expenses. This project looked very overwhelming at first and getting everybody to agree and make decisions around devices, processes and policies is a huge cultural challenge and can be a barrier. The organization needs to assign the right leader to be responsible for developing the vision and strategy and being empowered to execute it.