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Health IT Success Stories

Emily Milton Helps Her Practice Achieve Meaningful Use and Improve Health Care Quality

Emily Milton quote: 'Health IT is not about having one more thing to do. It’s about quality care for patients'

Emily Milton is the administrator of Rosemark WomenCare Specialists, a private practice in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Rosemark provides obstetric, gynecological, and primary care services to women of all ages. In 2006, Ms. Milton helped the practice adopt and implement an electronic health record (EHR) system. After implementing an EHR system and achieving meaningful use, Ms. Milton and Rosemark are now seeing the benefits of Health IT in the quality of patient care.

Meaningful Use Spurs Positive Changes

Rosemark’s providers were initially resistant to Health IT and meaningful use. Despite the push-back, Ms. Milton continued to emphasize the benefits of EHRs to providers. “We knew that, if we could get providers to give it a try, meaningful use would help us improve health care quality for our patients,” Ms. Milton explained. To get providers excited about meaningful use, the clinic created “meaningful use contests” to encourage competition among provider groups on various meaningful use measures. The clinic also invited a representative from the Washington & Idaho Regional Extension Center to provider meetings to help them understand how each of the meaningful use core objectives would improve safety, quality of care, clinical outcomes, and care coordination.

With this information, Rosemark’s providers began to see how meaningful use positively impacted health care quality. Before Rosemark began meaningfully using EHRs, for example, providers at the practice did not always ask patients if they smoked. Once Rosemark’s providers began to record smoking status, however, they began to see a startling trend. Many of Rosemark’s pregnant patients were smokers.

Armed with this information, Rosemark’s providers moved to address the issue by offering smoking cessation classes at the practice, in conjunction with the local health department. One of Rosemark’s nurses teaches the classes, which educate patients about the risks of smoking during pregnancy. As a result of the classes, Rosemark successfully helped a number of pregnant patients quit smoking. “Once providers saw the impact of meaningful use, the ‘Aha!’ light came on,” Ms. Milton said. “Providers saw that meaningful use was helping us provide high quality health care.”

Plans to Spread Health IT and Meaningful Use

Ms. Milton intends to continue advocating for Health IT by helping other providers in southeastern Idaho achieve meaningful use and improve health care quality. Recently, she began working with a nearby practice on IT security. Ms. Milton and Rosemark also aim to participate in the Million Hearts Initiative, a federal initiative to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

Rosemark does not have any plans to stop there. “We want Rosemark to be a resource for people. We want to use Health IT to improve quality and to help people become more focused on their health,” said Ms. Milton.