Return on Investment
MEDHOST paid for itself in just six months for El Centro Regional Medical Center in El Centro,
El Centro Regional Medical Center, a city-owned 165-bed facility founded in 1953 in El Centro, Calif., provides general acute care to residents in the Imperial Valley. With a recent $44 million hospital expansion project that included a new 20-bed emergency department (ED), the hospital is used heavily for trauma care. El Centro’s dedication to patient safety, patient satisfaction and providing timely care drove its decision to implement an Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) to make emergency care more efficient by improving workflow and communication between clinical areas.
Because El Centro is a city-owned facility, hospital administrators are diligent in their selection process across the enterprise to ensure tax payer dollars are used on only the very best solutions. Because of previous experiences with a lack of follow-through and broken promises from technology vendors, administrators were even more dedicated to a complete and thorough vendor search. El Centro’s IT leaders and physicians, however, understood the value of having an electronic information system specifically designed for the ED because they had seen first-hand the advances made in these technologies.
The Solution: The three-year selection process El Centro underwent to find an EDIS vendor was largely doctor-driven. El Centro physicians partnered with IT to demonstrate to administration the intrinsic value of an EDIS, including enhanced patient care and safety, increased productivity levels and improved charge capture.
John Gaede, director of information services at El Centro, and Dr. George Rodriguez, ED director, wanted an ED-specific technology that would eliminate dictation, increase charge capture and provide detailed electronic medical records.
Once Gaede and Rodriguez received the go-ahead to start looking for an EDIS, El Centro considered products from 14 vendors, who were each asked to do multiple on-site demonstrations at El Centro. After thoroughly evaluating each vendor, El Centro narrowed the search to four. Gaede and Rodriguez conducted a site visit for each vendor and recognized easy customization and maintenance as key factors in their search.
In addition to having a system that would require low upkeep and would enable El Centro to customize to their specific needs, Gaede and Rodriguez wanted a technology solution that the ED staff, who work long, 12-hour shifts, would feel comfortable using and would be able to adopt easily in the fast-paced ED environment. So they decided that ease-of-use would be the No. 1 criteria for whichever product they selected and price would come second, thus narrowing the search even further to two vendors. The final two vendors went head-to-head for several months before El Centro selected MEDHOST for its ease-of-use and flexibility.
“MEDHOST had all the functionality we needed and more, and when it came right down to it, they were willing to makes things happen,” said Gaede. “We chose MEDHOST because of its ease-of-use, and we have since seen a high level of staff acceptance and compliance due not only to the functionality, but also because of MEDHOST’s thorough clinical training throughout the entire process.”
As seen in their vendor site visits, Gaede and Rodriguez wanted the flexibility and freedom to customize the EDIS to meet specific charting needs without putting in a request to the vendor, something MEDHOST provided with their Administrative ToolKit. For example, this simple customization tool has allowed El Centro to modify the template for their specific Code Blue requirements. Having an information system in place that clinicians will still use when the ED is most chaotic instead of reverting back to paper documentation is a key factor in true functionality.
“The bottom line is, it doesn’t matter how great a particular software is; if no one uses it, you’re not going to get the benefit,” said Gaede. “With MEDHOST, even in the busiest of situations, our clinicians still use it and wouldn’t go back to the old way if given the choice.”
Electronic charting has led to more accurate clinical documentation in El Centro’s ED. With disease-specific templates, system prompts and required fields, El Centro ED clinicians are more thorough in their charting, which decreases inaccuracies and increases charge capture. The automatic, behind-the-scenes Charge Capture is a byproduct of clinical documentation. MEDHOST takes all information documented, including supplies used, treatments received, orders and administered medication, assigns the appropriate Level associated with the care given and allows the billing department to accurately charge patients, which has led to a true increase in per-patient revenue.
Prior to implementing MEDHOST, El Centro projected it would take the hospital just over four years to pay for the system. After only six months, MEDHOST essentially has paid for itself. El Centro has recognized a significant increase in the Level 4 and Level 5 charges because clinicians are documenting more accurately and thoroughly. In the first six months after implementing MEDHOST, El Centro recouped an additional $30-$60 per patient, translating into about $500,000.
El Centro was using 70 percent dictation before MEDHOST, and that number is now less than 1 percent. The easy-to-use electronic charting has resulted in a 100 percent compliance rate, which has led to a near elimination of transcription costs, a six-figure savings.
“When John presented the results to the board after the first six months, we realized that using a careful and thorough selection process has yielded an enhanced clinical tool that has exceeded our financial objectives,” said Ed Kirkpatrick, chief nursing officer at El Centro. “MEDHOST is by far the most successful installation both financially and from an implementation standpoint of any software in our hospital. The standard we now apply in selecting other technologies for our hospital is MEDHOST.”