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Health IT Success Stories

Angela Murphy Leads Norton Healthcare on the Path to Meaningful Use and Quality Improvement

'Meaningful Use and quality improvement go hand in hand.' – Angela Murphy

Angela Murphy is Associate Vice President of Physician Development at Norton Healthcare. Norton Healthcare, located in Louisville, Kentucky, is a five-hospital health system with more than 600 providers. Ms. Murphy works in Norton Medical Group, which is a multi-specialty physician group with an estimated 1.4 million patient visits this year. After helping Norton Healthcare implement an electronic health record (EHR) in 2012, Ms. Murphy led Norton’s journey to meaningful use.

Achieving Meaningful Use in a Rapidly Growing Health System

In the summer of 2012, Norton’s Health IT focus shifted from EHR system implementation to meaningful use. The health system’s recent growth, however, made achieving meaningful use a significant challenge. The EHR implementation had been a total culture change for the organization. Prior to the EHR, most of Norton’s provider practices were generally independent of one another. The EHR introduced standardization to Norton’s workflows and approach to quality improvement. If Norton’s providers were going to achieve meaningful use, however, Ms. Murphy and her colleagues needed to make sure everyone was on the same page.

Norton instituted a program to track meaningful use progress across the organization. Taking advantage of its EHR’s built-in reporting tools, Norton established a centralized reporting team, which collected data from each provider’s meaningful use reports. After collecting the reports, which tracked each provider’s meaningful use progress, the reporting team used the data to produce easy-to-read, provider-specific “snapshots.” The reporting team then distributed the snapshots to providers so they could see where they needed to improve.

Still, it wasn’t enough for providers to simply hear about their meaningful use progress. In many cases, providers had to redesign workflows. Ms. Murphy designated each practice’s office manager as the practice’s meaningful use “point person.” To help the office managers understand the workflow changes needed to achieve meaningful use, Ms. Murphy developed meaningful use handbooks that “included specific instructions on how to integrate meaningful use measures into EHR system workflows.”

As a result of the efforts to leverage a centralized reporting team to identify measures providers were having trouble achieving and positioning office managers as meaningful use “point people,” Norton Healthcare achieved Stage 1 meaningful use in 2012. “90% of our eligible professionals achieved meaningful use in six months or less,” said Ms. Murphy. “That was a huge accomplishment for our organization.”

Meaningful Use Paves the Way for Quality Improvement

Meaningful use is already helping Norton improve health care quality. Prior to achieving meaningful use, for example, Norton’s providers found it difficult to adequately monitor many quality initiatives. One example is the use of high-risk medications in elderly patients. However, through provider use of active medication lists, Norton is able to track its patients’ medications, identify high-risk patients, and improve patient safety, reducing the potential for adverse drug interactions.

Although Norton Healthcare is still developing a specific quality strategy, Ms. Murphy is optimistic. Since many quality improvement programs, such as the Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) and the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) initiative, overlap with meaningful use, Norton is well on its way to improving health care quality. “We are on the right track,” she says. “After achieving meaningful use, we now have the ability to capture the information necessary to improve quality of care for our patients.”