The Changing Healthcare Industry Is Changing IT | Article

16th Annual Outsourcing Excellence Awards – Best Healthcare: Springhill Medical Center and Allscripts Outsourcing

16th Annual Outsourcing Excellence Awards – Best Healthcare: Springhill Medical Center and Allscripts Outsourcing

“Before Allscripts, IT was one of my biggest managerial headaches. Now it’s a huge feather in my cap.”

Jeff St. Clair, president, Springhill Medical Center

Definition: The buyer and service provider worked together to help the hospital and/or pharmaceutical company provide the best outcome for patients as well as a healthy financial result for the healthcare company.

This is the second win for this relationship. It won the Best Impact award in 2009.

What do you do when you have an old legacy system, dwindling resources, overwhelming costs and a lack of technical strategic direction and execution in a rapidly changing industry?

You outsource!

“Healthcare has changed in the last six years,” says Jeff St. Clair, president of Springhill Medical Center. “It’s becoming more transparent. That’s allowed the big payors to install value-based purchasing. For the first time, hospitals have to perform in measurable categories.”

He adds that the new law, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), is requiring hospitals to become significantly more efficient “at a level unheard of before.” He says “the only way this will be possible is through the proper application of IT.”

St. Clair says all these changes forced the hospital to change its IT, too. “Today we have to use software as a tool to perform to the highest degree,” he says.

The Springhill president says “Allscripts has risen to this IT challenge.” For example, outsourcing allowed Springhill to not only roll out a new electronic medical record system, but do it “in an affordable manner.” St. Clair is still amazed at this “because IT is so capital intensive.”

This is the chief reason why hospital boards view IT “with an evil eye,” laughs Mark Killborn, area vice president, Allscripts Outsourcing. He says “Springhill Medical uses IT first and foremost to improve the quality of care and as a tool to bond with its physicians.”

For the last 10 years, the cost of IT services for Springhill has been below the national level for a hospital its size.

Electronic Health Records

As the only ‘for-profit’ hospital in a very competitive market, Springhill Medical made the bold decision to make the move to the Electronic Health Record system (HER) in 2003, becoming the first hospital in Mobile County to do so. Nine years later it finds itself with one of the most advanced solutions in the state having won numerous Alabama Quality Assurance Foundation awards for improvements in patient care and safety.

Electronic medical records radically altered the way the hospital delivered care to its patients. Thanks to the successful roll out, Springhill qualified for a $2.02 million stimulus check the federal government paid to healthcare facilities that introduced electronic health records. Springhill was the third hospital in Alabama to qualify for these funds and the 60th hospital in the nation to quality for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 funds.

Having a comprehensive EHR system had other benefits, too. It created strong physician loyalty in a competitive market. And Springhill now attracts the best doctors and nurses in the region because they want to put their patients in a hospital where they have the best outcomes. Springhill’s services and technology create that comfort zone.

“The functionality, dependability and quality of all our systems have been instrumental in helping us retain employees and attract new physicians to our hospital,” says St. Clair.

Why this relationship works

Springhill’s mantra is to put the patient first. Allscripts has adopted that mantra, too. The service provider has made decisions that were in the best interest of the patients but not its own.

St. Clair adds the hospital has included Kilborn on its executive team from the outset. “He sits with the ownership, CEO and COO as an equal player with an equal voice,” reports St. Clair. “We recognize he is our IT resident expert. We rely on him to tell us what we need to do strategically,” he adds.

Kilborn, who also has the title of Springhill’s CIO, adds, “Sitting in the boardroom, hearing what’s coming down the pike allows us to be more proactive in bringing cost-effective solutions to meet their needs in a more expedient manner.”

St. Clair is also impressed with the provider’s “tremendous depth in skill sets.” Whenever Springhill embarks on a big project, Allscripts provides the expertise, searching worldwide if there is a skill the local staff can’t address. “They don’t draw a line at the boundaries of the contract. All they care about is that we are up and running and performing well,” says St. Clair.

As one of their showcase accounts, Springhill Medical regularly hosts existing and new prospect customers so they can see how Allscripts products work in a real-world environment. “We hosted five people from Singapore all of last week,” reports the president.

In addition, the Springhill staff has on occasion hosted Allscripts developers and sales staff. “This is an important piece. It gives Allscripts a production environment in which they can better understand t
he user’s needs and how they utilize its products,” says Kilborn.

The bottom line: patients have better outcomes and Springhill Medical can manage its business better. “In this day of pay-for-performance reimbursement, we consistently have exceeded both state and national averages,” says St. Clair. “We’re able to track and trend compliance thanks to the systems we now have in place.”

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