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Health IT Success Stories

EHR Alerts Help Providers Deliver Higher Quality Care

"Our EHR has provided health care workers with a way to decrease medical errors, as well as enable patients to become active participants in their own health care."

Crane Rural Health Clinic, located approximately 35 miles away from the nearest large city in rural Texas, provides care to a medically underserved rural population. In working towards meaningful use, the clinic enhanced its electronic health record (EHR) system to help providers track medication use, identify drug interactions, and provide better healthcare to its patients.

Collaborating with their REC to Achieve Meaningful Use

The West Texas Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (WTxHITREC) helped Crane Rural Health Clinic identify the requirements and core measures it needed to fulfill to attest to meaningful use stage 1. Collaboration with the REC was essential in helping the clinic achieve meaningful use, as the REC helped pinpoint pieces of the clinical workflow that could be made more efficient through EHR implementation. A provider at Crane Rural Health Clinic comments, “WTxHITREC was instrumental in preparing us for meaningful use. They came to us with an action plan, and we were receptive of their findings. As a team, we worked toward achieving our end goal of meaningful use.”

Electronic Clinical Decision Support Alerts Help Providers Increase Quality of Care

Working towards meaningful use, the clinic’s IT department set up clinical decision support alerts in the EHR that would help providers monitor medication use in patients that have a particular diagnosis. For instance, for patients with congestive heart failure that take the prescription medication Lasix, the EHR prompts providers to check potassium levels. Before the clinic used EHRs it was difficult to monitor for drug interactions. Now, the EHR alerts provide a safety net that helps reduce medication errors, improving overall patient care.

EHRs Increase Patient Engagement

The EHR also prompts providers to offer smoking cessation education to those that have tobacco abuse recorded in their history or problem list. The EHR helps providers begin more regular discussions with patients about their health habits. In this way, the clinic has found that meaningful use of EHRs creates opportunities for patients to more actively participate in their own healthcare.

Lessons Learned and Next Steps

Crane Rural Health Clinic has found EHR alerts to be a welcome addition to the provider routine. The clinic aims to provide encouragement and assistance to support other facilities wishing to make the transition to electronic health records. By voicing the successes and challenges of working with the REC, the clinic hopes to provide insight and inspiration to surrounding care sites.