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New Mexico Healthcare Leaders Honored to Attend White House Health IT Town Hall

Press Release Date: June 27, 2012
Contact: Angela Plusquellic, LCF Research, 505.938.9908, aplusquellic@lcfresearch.org

Albuquerque, NM – Three New Mexico healthcare leaders attended a national Health IT Town Hall in recognition for achieving meaningful use of electronic health records. The attendees were nominated by the New Mexico Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (NM HITREC) and selected by the White House to attend the event on June 19.

Over 90 attendees representing 34 states attended a two day gathering of health professionals to meet and share their experiences with staff from the Office of National Coordinator (ONC).

Domenica (D) Rush, CEO, and Dan Morrell, Chief Information Officer for Sierra Vista Hospital in Truth or Consequences, NM, represented the perspective of the critical access hospital. Kathy Finch, MD, FACP, with Adult Health Care in Albuquerque, attended as a solo practitioner.

Rush, Morrell, and Dr. Finch said that the meetings and breakout sessions were worthwhile because it gave ONC staff the opportunity to hear actual experiences from healthcare professionals working in the field. The discussions evolved around the lack of IT standardization and how systems communicate with each other, challenges with workforce education and recruiting qualified staff, managing competing regulations from several federal agencies, and the challenges in advancing meaningful use of health IT.

Rush was invited to a five-person conference with Farzad Mostashari, MD, ScM, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. “He was very attentive and interested in what we had to say. He was sensitive to the issue of costs, and was shocked at the amount we have already spent,” Rush said. “I expressed concern about being able to sustain implementation when there is a drop in funding reimbursements.”

Morrell said that in one of the breakout sessions, there was a lot of brainstorming around the opportunities and outcomes of Health IT for providers in medically underserved and rural areas. “It’s interesting to note that the same level of challenges exist nationally regarding electronic scripting, medical reconciliations, providers and patients sharing via e-mails, and providers trying to manage their time during their day,” he said.

Dr. Finch said there was a lot of discussion around the cost, the difficulty, and the three to six month recovery for most clinics to return to normal operations. “Change management is a huge part of adopting EHRs. It’s about workflow redesign and you have to be interested, invested, and prepared to deal with the impact,” she said. “There is still no good way to calculate return on investment. We talk about it, but no one measures the fact that I can go home three hours earlier because of the EHR.”

All three participants said that overall, it was a remarkable event to meet with their counterparts from other states and for ONC staff to hear about actual experiences from the attendees.

“From my perspective, this was an opportunity with a cross-section of people who were there to meet one-on-one and to share real concepts,” Morrell said. “What we heard back is that we are listening to you, and we want to hear from you going forward. It put a face on them and gave them our face.”

ONC announced at the meeting that more than 110,000 eligible professionals and more than 2,400 eligible hospitals have been paid by the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs as of May 2012. About 48 percent of eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals and one out of every five eligible providers have received an incentive payment for adopting, implementing, upgrading, or demonstrating meaningful use of an EHR. In New Mexico, 665 eligible providers have received $34,959,569 in payments.

About Dr. Finch

Dr. Finch, MD, FACP, is the first NM HITREC participating eligible provider to attest to meaningful use under Medicare. Dr. Finch is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians. She recently certified for her third decade of practice through the American Board of Internal Medicine. For the last seven years she has run her own clinic, Adult Health Care in Albuquerque where she currently manages care for about 3,000 patients.

About Sierra Vista Hospital

Sierra Vista Hospital is the first NM HITREC participating hospital to attest to meaningful use under Medicare. Sierra Vista Hospital is a community-operated 25 bed critical access hospital located in south central New Mexico. Sierra Vista Hospital is a member of the New Mexico Hospital Association, and is owned by a combination of public bodies. The hospital has medical and emergency services, ancillary services, and a rural health clinic that provides for primary care on the premises.

About NM HITREC

The New Mexico Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (NM HITREC) is a collaboration of three organizations – LCF Research, HealthInsight New Mexico (formerly NMMRA), and the New Mexico Primary Care Association – who are working together to support healthcare providers throughout the state in achieving meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) to improve patient care.

NM HITREC was awarded through an objective review process by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), as the designated organization in New Mexico to support primary health care providers on EHR adoption and meaningful use.

For more information about NM HITREC, please visit www.nmhitrec.org or call us at (505) 938-9900, or e-mail info@nmhitrec.org

Read the press release, CMS and ONC Announce over 100,000 Providers Have Been Paid under the EHR Incentive Programs, at http://www.nmhitrec.org/news

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