Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Continuing IT Journey

I have said for many years—and health care reform is increasingly clarifying this fact—that if we are to increase the quality of our care and reduce our costs, we need to have efficient and effective technology systems in place that support consumer interaction and make it easier to implement evidence-based medical protocols.

At CHRISTUS, we have been focusing on:
• IT systems that are data-driven
• Our ongoing Unity Project to connect not only our existing acute care systems, but also connecting our U.S. operations to those in Mexico and our non-acute divisions
• A firm schedule for implementing these improvements and changes
• Physician involvement and supporting them as possible in these changes

I have said many times that physician alignment will be key to our future, and this includes alignment with our IT systems.

Physician usage and adoption of our current data system will also be critical to the overall success of our system-wide Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) efforts. The move to electronic medical records and CPOE is closely aligned with quality patient care. Although the quality improvement benefits to automation will not occur overnight, we remain confident that positive results will be widely recognized.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Staying Connected in Haiti

Those of you who stop by my blog regularly probably remember our trip to Haiti last year and how it changed all of us. (To read the posts about Haiti, click here.)

In February 2010, I led a 20-member medical team who served for a week in Port-au-Prince, but we knew that was just a drop in the bucket of what the country and its people would need. That’s why CHRISTUS Health recently announced that we have committed $1 million to rebuild and reopen Hospital St. Francis de Sales, a Catholic hospital in Port-au-Prince that was heavily damaged during last year’s earthquake.

You can read more about the project on our Website here. Please consider joining us and other Catholic health systems around the country as we make ongoing investments in the health care infrastructure—and ultimately, the people--of Haiti.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Some Positive Aspects of Health Care Reform Already Making a Difference for CHRISTUS

Today, I’d like to share with you some newsletter articles from our system publications about how federal funds are supporting the work of CHRISTUS in our regions.

CHRISTUS St. Michael Awarded $1.8 Million Grant for Kids Care Collaborative

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission awarded CHRISTUS St. Michael a $1.8 million grant to implement a two-year health home (medical home) pilot program. The program, named Kids Care Collaborative, will involve a partnership between the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Area Health Education Center – Southwest, the All for Kids Clinic in Texarkana and Texarkana Community Clinic.

The Kids Care Collaborative is designed to develop best practices for many of the medical home strategies already in place at CHRISTUS St. Michael, in addition to those that it plans to implement in the future. Although intended to benefit children who are covered by Medicaid in the state of Texas, the collaborative will also serve other children and adults so that the vision of a medical home for all will be closer to becoming a reality. The pilot program will provide a medical home for participants that will also include dental and behavioral health services.

Immediate goals to be accomplished are hiring of staff, establishing collaborative relationships with medical professionals, securing office space and beginning the necessary training so that the foundation for a successful program is laid. Mike Finley, M.D., regional chief medical officer, will provide overall leadership and guidance. This is an exciting time for CHRISTUS St. Michael as it leads the effort to transform health care delivery in the Ark-La-Tex region.

$4.23 Million in Federal Incentive Funding for “Meaningful Use” Awarded to CHRISTUS Louisiana Acute Care Facilities

CHRISTUS Health received a payment of $4.23 million in federal incentive dollars for its Louisiana acute care facilities, an amount designated as a “down payment” in exchange for our commitment to meet the established criteria for “meaningful use” of electronic health records set forth in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act enacted as part of the American Recovery and Reinvest Act of 2009. Our Texas facilities plan to follow the same protocol required to receive a down payment in the near future. Based on the payment formulas provided by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, CHRISTUS incentive payments over the next five years could potentially approach $109 million.