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MedStar Health

MedStar Health implements new EHR, sees time savings improvements

When MedStar Health executives decided to switch to Cerner’s electronic health record (EHR), they knew it would be a challenge that ultimately would improve care by lowering time in the EHR, enhancing documentation and providing one unified record across all of MedStar’s systems across Maryland and the Washington D.C. area. A total of 43 different specialties, 6,200 users and 465 ambulatory practices across MedStar adopted the new EHR, named MedConnect.  

An implementation pilot program began in August 2016, followed by three larger waves of implementation. “We really went to being up and active in about a 12-month period,” said Brendan Furlong, MD, vice president and chief medical information officer, MedStar Medical Group. 

Providers quickly adapted to MedConnect. In January 2017, ambulatory providers signed more than 800,000 orders and completed 36,900 notes in electronic physician documentation solution Dynamic Documentation™ at its clinics.  

“The biggest successes really have to do with individual doctors cutting significant amounts of time off their documentation in the MedConnect chart. That translates into more time the doctor can spend with the patient, and less time working during off hours,” said Furlong.  

At the start of the pilot program and each wave (August, September, November, and December 2016), physicians spent an average of six minutes and 36 seconds in MPages® chart review. After receiving help from adoption coaches, that dropped to an average of five minutes and 44 seconds. 

This allowed physicians to see more patients. While they saw an average of 149 patients per month before coaching at implementation, they saw an average of 163 patients monthly after the coaching. 

An optimization project that started in February 2017 helped save even more time. From February to June, the time in the chart dropped each month, with an overall 11 percent decrease. The optimization also saw a 19 percent decrease in orders time per patient for the same time period. 

“The rollout was ultimately about coming together as a company with a unity of purpose,” said Furlong. “We had a job to do; we had to get it done. Our clinician community, the clinician leadership, our information system and ultimately the Cerner partnership really made this job happen.”  

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Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realized by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.