We recently observed U.S. National Health IT Week (NHIT), a nationwide action week focused on catalyzing change celebrating the power of information and technology to reform our health system. In the shadow of this event was the ideal time for Armand Morrison, Vice President at emids, and John Carrigg, President and CEO at United Health Services in Binghamton, NY, to discuss the important role health information technology plays in the industry’s continuing digital transformation journey.

emids and UHS have enjoyed a highly strategic partnership that started many years ago with the creation of an IT Strategic Plan that aligned with UHS’ five-year operating plan and has expanded to include multiple advisory and implementation projects. emids is currently helping UHS with the implementation of Epic’s electronic health record across its enterprise.

Armand: John, please describe the journey that UHS is currently on regarding the role health information technology is playing in transforming how your organization will be delivering healthcare in the future.

John: UHS has embarked on the journey to fully modernize and integrate our electronic health records, and our revenue cycle operation, by the end of April 2020. This journey started several years ago with emids helping us develop an Information Technology Strategic Plan, which eventually led to our selection of Epic in July of 2018. We believe that this decision will truly transform the way we deliver care to our patients in all clinical settings, including acute care and critical care hospital services, our emergency and trauma services, our physician practice and clinic locations, our two community hospitals, our Critical Access Hospital and our home care services. As emids and our other partners help us integrate all clinical and financial patient information through Epic, we will streamline care, improve hand-offs, improve quality and empower our providers. But most importantly, we will empower patients to participate in their care delivery like never before.

Armand: National Health IT (NHIT) Week is held every year in September, which is essentially a nationwide action week focused on catalyzing change within the U.S. health system through the application of information and technology. The Five Points of Engagement at last month’s conference were:

  • Advancing Public and Population Health
  • Modernizing the Public Health Infrastructure
  • Accelerating Workforce Development
  • Expanding Access to Broadband and Telehealth
  • Addressing Social Determinants of Health

How do you see these Points of Engagement influencing the transformation of healthcare delivery toward the goal of creating healthy communities?

John: UHS is fully committed to the Five Points of Engagement as our care delivery transformation gains momentum toward the April 2020 implementation of Epic. We believe that Epic will allow us to not only deliver dramatically better clinical care on an individualized patient basis, but also allow us to significantly improve the health of broader populations that we serve in the Southern Tier of New York State. Understanding and incorporating social determinants of health into individual patient care assessments and care plans is essential to fulfill our mission. We also believe that our IT transformation will allow us to attract the best and brightest health care professionals, who are demanding fully integrated systems that allow them to do their patient care work in a seamless and efficient fashion.

Armand: How do you see UHS being an important catalyst in helping our industry continue to move forward along the path of digital transformation?

John: Every patient we serve deserves the best possible EHR system to support their engagement in world class care delivery. It is imperative that we continue to shine a brilliant spotlight on how far our industry has come in the past 20 years, but also how far we have yet to go to fully realize the overarching goals of digital transformation on a nationwide basis.

Armand: What do you see as the two most important issues facing our industry in the digital transformation journey?

John: First, we must ensure that patient privacy is protected with every interaction, and that every digital system is completely safe and secure for patients to use. Second, we must continue to insist that state and federal regulations, and bureaucracy that grows from them, exist only to serve the needs of our patients and protect their rights, and the best way for that to happen is a commitment to establish national standards on interoperability.

Armand Morrison, Vice President of Sales, Provider Solutions at emids, serves on the Board of Directors for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) for the Buffalo/Niagara, New York area. The New York State Chapter of HIMSS is the premier professional organization serving the interests of healthcare information management and systems professionals who work or reside in New York State, from Montauk Point to Niagara Falls. Affiliated, supported and partially funded by the Healthcare Information and Management System Society, the New York State Chapter of HIMSS provides a local forum for healthcare IS/IT and information management professionals to share their work experiences, raise concerns in the industry, acquire knowledge and training and attend career advancement seminars. Be sure to connect with him on LinkedIn.

John Carrigg is President and CEO at UHS Inc. and UHS Hospitals. Serving a seven-county region, UHS is one of the largest and most comprehensive systems in upstate New York and an economic engine with a total community impact exceeding $1 billion a year, providing a wide range of medical, surgical, rehabilitative and long-term care services from 60 locations