Somerville, N.J. – Somerset Medical Center became the first hospital in New Jersey and one of only four hospitals in the country to achieve the federal government’s Stage 2 standards for “Meaningful Use” of certified electronic health records (EHR). The medical center successfully completed its Meaningful Use Stage 2 attestation through its participation in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Program, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. As early adopters of the program Somerset Medical Center’s Vice President of Information Technology Services and Planning and Chief Information Officer, Dave Dyer, and Douglas Ashinsky, M.D. were asked to testify at the Health IT Policy Committee meeting, held on May 20, 2014. The Health IT Policy Committee is a public advisory body that provides recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health IT on policies for the development and adoption of a nationwide health information infrastructure. Dyer and Dr. Ashinksy provided feedback and recommendations on how to improve the program while sharing their firsthand experiences in an effort to create best practices for physicians and patients.
An early adopter of electronic health records since 2002, Somerset Medical Center attested to the initial requirements of the 1st Stage of Meaningful Use in 2011. Immediately following, Somerset began its journey towards Stage 2. Several benefits come with executing electronic health records, including instant access for doctors and caregivers to important information about a patient’s health, such as X-rays, MRIs, EKGs, medications and previous medical history, helping them to make timely diagnoses and begin the highest quality of treatment promptly. The system provides doctors and caregivers the opportunity for a safe, easy and quick way of storing and accessing patient information, especially in an emergency. In addition to creating new efficiencies, the use of electronic health records also enhances patient safety by reducing medication duplication and alerting health care professionals to potentially dangerous drug interactions and allergies.
“Digital technology has radically transformed the field of medicine, and Somerset Medical Center continues to remain at the forefront of these advancements, to assure that we are constantly increasing the quality and standard of care provided to our patients,” said Ken Bateman, CPA, MHA, President and Chief Executive Officer at Somerset Medical Center. “As we near our merger with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, our investment in health information technology further demonstrates our commitment to enhancing efficiency, reducing costs and advancing patient care. I commend our staff for their dedication and hard work in achieving this great goal that will enhance the quality of care our community and patients receive.”
To achieve Stage 2, the medical center enhanced its emergency department (ED) documentation and charging along with triage and ED patient tracking. Somerset Medical Center also implemented bedside bar coded medication administration, which increases patient safety by verifying that the right medication is administered to the right patient in all cases. Additionally, medication reconciliation at admission and discharge ensures that the patient has a smooth medical transition from the hospital to home and understands what changes were made in a prescription. In addition to these significant clinical workflow enhancements, patients were invited via e-mail to establish a Personal Health Record providing on-line access to their medical information and electronic transition of care documents were shared with other providers within the care continuum.
“Stage 2 includes standardization and automation of processes including discharge, physician progress note documentation, order entry and quality measure compliance,” said Dyer. “All of these advances are designed to add new efficiencies while improving patient care across the continuum of care. By achieving ‘meaningful use’ stage 2 of electronic health records, we remain on the forefront in patient care.”
Cerner, a leading provider of healthcare information technology, served as a Meaningful Use Stage 2 resource to Somerset Medical Center as the organization navigated the certification requirements.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment to be among the nation’s first to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 2 attestation,” said Eric Geis, Cerner Vice President of Clinical Solutions. “Somerset Medical Center continues to be a model for quickly meeting regulatory requirements and for using technology to enhance patient care.”
About Somerset Medical Center
Somerset Medical Center is a 355-bed acute care hospital in Somerville, providing comprehensive health care services to residents throughout Central New Jersey. It is nationally recognized as a Magnet® hospital for nursing excellence. The medical center’s Steeplechase Cancer Center is designated as a Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer – a distinction achieved by only one in four hospitals nationwide that treat cancer patients. The Joint Surgery Institute at Somerset Medical Center has earned the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal of Approval for total knee and total hip replacement surgery. The medical center is designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services. It is one of nine Medical Coordination Centers established by the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services to coordinate communication among emergency responders during a disaster situation. For more information about Somerset Medical Center, visit www.somersetmedicalcenter.com.