National Nurses Week 2013: Health IT is Essential to Optimal Care

Elizabeth Frederick | May 7, 2013

This is the second blog post in a series related to National Nurses Week and how Health IT is helping nurse provide coordinated care to their patients.

I am Betsy Frederick, MSN-NP, a nurse practitioner (NP) with Martin’s Point Health Care in Bangor, Maine and I have used health information technology (health IT) since 1992. Health IT has helped me provide individualized primary care for my patients.

Achieving Meaningful Use

I consider myself a compassionate primary care provider, and I am proud to say that I am a meaningful user of health IT. Working with the Maine Regional Extension Center (REC) at HealthInfoNet, my practice has met all measures for meaningful use this past year.

We were able to meet meaningful use despite not being eligible for incentive money. We are just like the 1,000 other NPs not eligible for CMS incentives across the country that took advantage of the help provided by RECs and have demonstrated meaningful use through ONC milestones.

My Health IT Journey Began with Electronic Health Records

I think it’s important for you to know that I am no health IT newbie. I first started using a computer to track patient information in 1992 and I haven’t picked up a full paper chart since 1997! Of course my electronic health record (EHR) system does a lot more than the original disk operating system (DOS) we used in the 90’s.

With the electronic health record, I can now review my patient’s:

  • medical history,
  • office visit notes,
  • medications,
  • labs,
  • consults,
  • and so much more.

The EHR improves efficiency, accountability, clinical performance, care quality and even patient satisfaction. The EHR is a central tool we use at Martin’s Point to help us improve quality of the care we provide to our patients.

Utilizing Other Health IT Tools like HIEs

In addition to the EHR, we have incorporated other health IT tools such as e-prescribing, decision support tools, patient e-mail and more recently, we have connected to the statewide health information exchange (HIE) operated by HealthInfoNet. With HealthInfoNet, I can see information outside our practice and use that to help our staff better improve and coordinate patient care.

My practice uses the HIE to follow our patients’ care when they are referred out for services, which means no more waiting for a fax from the hospital or calling around for lab test results. Now we can log on to HealthInfoNet and gather the information in an instant, often with the patient right there in front of us. The HIE saves us time and ultimately provides safer, better care for my patients.

We are excited about the continued health IT enhancements, particularly those that will further engage patients like online portals and health education tools. The more information the patient has, the better they will be able to engage in their treatment and health. We want to maximize the patient experience.

Health IT Advice for Other

In celebration of National Nurses Week I wanted to share the story of how Health IT has enhanced my work as a nurse.

My advice to providers just starting down the health IT journey is not to wait. It’s a lot of work, but in the end it helps you give the best care possible. The brain can’t remember everything. Using health IT can help and is key to providing optimal care.

Learn more about Martin’s Point Health Care at www.martinspoint.orgExternal Links Disclaimer and HealthInfoNet at www.hinfonet.orgExternal Links Disclaimer.

How has health IT helped you provide better care? Please share in the comments below.