MEDITECH EHR Implementation Supports Data Sharing During COVID-19

A MEDITECH EHR implementation helped a health system earn a spot on the CHIME Digital Health Most Wired list for its data sharing abilities.

A MEDITECH EHR implementation that went live a month before COVID-19 began has secured a health system a spot on the CHIME Digital Health Most Wired list for its data sharing abilities.

Berkshire Health Systems, based in Pittsfield, MA, went live with MEDITECH’s Expanse EHR across its three acute care facilities, 50 physician practices, and cancer center in February of 2020.

Less than a month later, COVID-19 hit, inundating health systems across the country. While adapting to a new EHR system amidst a pandemic could have been difficult, Bill Young, CIO at Berkshire Health Systems, said that the implementation has been nothing short of a success.

“I'm so happy and excited that the year we went live, and despite all that happened with COVID-19, we were able to make Most Wired and be an eight in both the acute care facility and the ambulatory space,” Young told EHRIntelligence in an interview, referencing their CHIME scores of eight on a ten-point scale. “I am so grateful that I have had this system over the past couple years. It has proven its ability to be flexible and powerful.”

In 2020, the health system earned a six from CHIME for both its hospital and ambulatory practices. At that time, Berkshire Health was in the midst of building Expanse. Young explained that the organization used its CHIME results to guide the implementation planning process.

“CHIME does a good job of setting a roadmap for healthcare IT,” Young said. “It helps the whole industry set a bar that we all maybe want to achieve. For those of us in healthcare IT, it helps identify those areas that others are doing maybe better in and helps set the agenda and the strategy for what we're doing.”

Berkshire Health went out in search of a new EHR system about four years ago, Young explained. Prior to the Expanse EHR implementation, the organization leveraged the MEDITECH Client/Server EHR in acute settings and a different EHR vendor option in physician practices.

Young said that despite a great relationship with their physician practice EHR vendor, the healthcare organization wanted an integrated EHR system across acute and ambulatory practices.

“We’re a medium size healthcare system, but we still wanted a common EHR across the hospital, our physician practices, and our cancer center,” he noted.

When researching the market for a new EHR system, Young said the health system looked at products from MEDITECH, Cerner, and Epic Systems.

The decision-making process, which included executive committees and work groups, took about a year.

He said that the ultimate decision to go with MEDITECH was based on trust in the vendor and affordability.

“I've had the pleasure of working with MEDITECH for the decade plus that I've been here, and they are an honest partner in this industry,” Young said. “They tell me the truth and they do what they say they will do.”

Young said that the integrated EHR system has improved physicians’ ability to communicate effectively and helped eliminate paper-based medical documentation, which is not always legible.

With one central EHR, providers across the health system can share data about the patient to support care coordination. Additionally, the system enables health data sharing among patients and their families.

“It has been very powerful to share this data with the patient, and from all that I can see, it hasn't really added a crazy burden to the providers or their offices,” Young stated.

Overall, Young said the health system has about a 55 percent participation rate in the patient portal.

“We are using our patient portal in an incredible way to partner with our patients, our families, and our healthcare givers,” Young noted.

The patient portal in the past was not centralized, meaning patients would have a different portal for ambulatory and acute settings. Now, they can see all their health information in one place.  

Young noted that the other two systems in this space are built on an older architecture. Expanse’s web-based nature provides more flexibility, he said.

“I give MEDITECH a lot of credit,” Young said. “In the early days of meaningful use, they took a little bit of a pause where the other two were really attacking the industry. MEDITECH came out with Expanse built on web-based technology.”

“It has proven to be an incredible tool for us. I'm very proud of the build we have and I'm very proud of how we're using the tool,” Young added. “The cool part of this system is I have not had anything thrown at me that I couldn't do. Expanse has given us the flexibility and the capability to do almost anything we want, in the right way, which has been very helpful.”

In particular, Berkshire Health has enlisted MEDITECH surveillance tools that use discrete data elements for clinical decision support.

“Sepsis is one of the things we're now doing a lot more with surveillance, to watch the indicators that this patient may have something going on and you need to get on it quickly,” Young explained. “We've taken full advantage of that.”

With Expanse, the health system has also implemented business and clinical analytics.

“We can do an awful lot more that we weren't able to do before to really analyze much more discrete data,” Young said.

Looking forward, Young said that Berkshire Health still has a few other providers who need to move to the Expanse architecture, including its visiting nurse service.

“I'm excited that we made it to CHIME’s Most Wired, and I am going to keep pushing the envelope to see if I can improve again next year,” Young emphasized.

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