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Health IT Success Stories

Cass County Health System Uses Health IT to Improve Health Care Quality

'For Cass County Health System, implementing an EHR system is an ongoing venture to improve patient safety and provide high quality health care.' – Jeff Osegard, Chief Information Officer

Cass County Health System, which operates a twenty-five bed critical access hospital (CAH) and four rural health clinics, is located in Atlantic, Iowa and serves the rural area between Omaha, Nebraska and Des Moines, Iowa. The health system is using its electronic health record (EHR) to improve health care quality for its patients with chronic diseases.

Caring For a Complex Patient Population

At Cass County, Medicare beneficiaries account for more than half of patients, so the health system frequently treats patients with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. When Cass County learned about the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) EHR Incentive Programs, the health system jumped at the chance to participate. Cass County knew meaningful use could help it use its EHR to improve health care quality for its patients with chronic diseases.

Improving health care quality, however, was a challenging process for Cass County. Cass County ran into technical challenges using its EHR to generate the quality reports the health system needed to monitor its chronic disease population. The EHR system could not aggregate data across all of Cass County’s facilities. To overcome this hurdle, the health system sought assistance from Telligen Health IT Regional Extension Center. Cass County followed Telligen’s advice and improved its interfacing technology so that the health system could aggregate important data from the CAH and rural health clinics and produce informative reports about its patients with chronic conditions.

Making Meaningful Use Meaningful

After improving its EHR system’s data aggregation capabilities, Cass County is now able to efficiently generate data reports using its EHR system. For example, Cass County can now create lists of patients with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Using these reports to identify patients, Cass County’s providers can build targeted action plans to address their patients’ health needs. To help remind patients to stick to their action plans, Cass County is developing text messaging, phone, and email reminder capabilities. Additionally, Cass County is beginning to implement a patient portal which will provide patients with online access to laboratory test results and enable secure messaging between patients and caregivers.

Beyond helping Cass County’s providers create targeted action plans for their patients, the EHR system is helping the health system track and monitor patient care. With data from all of Cass County’s facilities, the health system has the information it needs to understand which patient action plans are working and which are not. This feedback helps Cass County continually improve health care quality for its patients. “We have a great team of caregivers and support staff willing to make changes and take advantage of technology for the betterment of our patients’ health and well-being,” explained Jeff Osegard, Chief Information Officer at Cass County.