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Pagosa Springs Medical Center

Pagosa Springs Medical Center goes from HIMSS 0 to HIMSS 6 overnight

Critical access hospitals are often the lifebood of rural areas in the United States. Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC) in southwestern Colorado says one of its major arteries is its Cerner electronic health record.

“It is necessary to serve the growth of our organization,” said PSMC CEO Brad Cochennet. “We grew 30 percent the year we turned on Cerner, and 40 percent the year after that. We would be really struggling if we weren’t on Cerner.”

Some of that growth came, literally, overnight. PSMC, a Cerner CommunityWorks client, was on paper until the stroke of midnight Feb. 17, 2014. PSMC implemented Cerner – and immediately became a HIMSS Stage 6 Hospital.

From its Level Four Trauma Center to its billing office, everything at PSMC is integrated. The hospital, its rural health clinic and everyone who provides care at the health system can now all access patient information in real time: visiting specialists, PSMC employed physicians, PSMC pharmacists, and the area nursing home. 

“It has made the continuity of care seamless,“ said Susan Schmidt, PSMC Clinical Informatics Manager. “All access to care improved.”

PSMC covers more than 1,800 square miles in the San Juan Mountains.  It sees more than 11,000 patients a year, from the community and visitors from across the world. 

Those patients revel in the streamlined registration process. “The patients love not giving their registration information 15 times over,” said Kathee Douglas, CNO.  

PSMC patients also appreciate the easy access to their PSMC patient portal, and their lab results.   More than a third of PSMC’s invited patients are on the portal.

PSMC executives appreciate the analytics that come with their EHR system.

PSMC’s CMIO can prove her physicians are more efficient. Dr. Michelle Flemmings uses the example of one physician who complained the EHR was preventing him from seeing as many patients as he used to see.

“Using Cerner Advance,” she said, “I shared the data.” In April of 2015, the physician saw 161 patients. In September it was 280.

“He hasn’t complained since,” said Dr. Flemmings.

“We hire physicians from across the nation,” said CEO Cochennet.  “Cerner is a leader in the industry and has national recognition. We needed that for a recruiting tool too – that national reputation and credibility among physicians.”

2014 was just a preview of what is to come. In 2016, PSMC expects to grow another 30 percent. This month, PSMC will connect with the Colorado state HIE. This summer, PSMC plans to connect to CommonWell.  Those HIE connections mean PSMC will connect to even more healthcare providers – and real-time access to information - in both across their rural communities and nationwide.

Fewer than 30 hospitals in Colorado are HIMSS Stage 6. Of those, five are Critical Access Hospitals, including PSMC.

“We were not the first Critical Access Hospital in Colorado to adopt electronic health records,” said Cochennet. “I think we were the last. We waited until we needed to and we said ‘we’ll do it and do it right’.”

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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.