20 Jun Ministry Health Care to implement Marshfield Clinic's electronic medical record
Madison, Wis. – Ministry Health Care has agreed to use CattailsMD, an electronic medical record software suite developed by Marshfield Clinic, in most of its hospitals and Ministry Medical Group.
The agreement not only creates what is being called the largest patient database in Wisconsin, it means two Wisconsin healthcare entities – Marshfield Clinc and Epic Systems – are competing more on a head-to-head basis.
Gov. Jim Doyle, who called the Cattails deployment an important step in the state’s efforts to control healthcare costs and to improve patient safety by reducing medical errors, made the announcement.
Under the agreement, more than 1,000 providers in the Marshfield Clinic system, at Ministry Medical Group and Ministry hospital locations, will share access to 2.5 million patient records.
The implementation of Cattails will take place over three to five years.
“We are confident this significant IT investment will meet the healthcare needs of the patients we serve in northern and central Wisconsin,” Nick Desien, president and CEO of Ministry Health Care, said in a statement released by Doyle’s office.
Cattails, now used by more than 13,000 healthcare providers, is the first provider-developed ambulatory electronic medical record to achieve Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology certification.
With Cattails, caregivers will have immediate access to all patient medical information, including lab results and radiology images, over their computers – no matter where they are located. The electronic records provide care and security advantages over paper charts that must either be retrieved from a central storage area or be physically taken from one location to another within a healthcare system.
As part of the Cattails implementation, Marshfield Clinic will provide planning, project management, training, and technical support to Ministry Health Care.
Will Weider, CIO of Ministry Healthcare, said Cattails was chosen over products from the likes of McKesson and Epic Systems (one of the finalists).
From a technology standpoint, Cattails stood out because its physicians liked the tablet platform due to its demonstrated success at one Ministry health clinic.
In addition, the fact that it’s delivered as a service where Marshfield Clinic hosts the data and manages the applications. “It’s kind of an SaaS (Software as a Service) approach to an EMR, which really isn’t widely available, not for this kind of enterprise class EMR,” Weider said.
The technology aspect of this is perhaps three percent of its decision-making, Weider said. The predominant reasons were related to familiarity and business operations.
Ministry has used Cattails in a successful pilot at one of its clinics in Weston, Wis., where it is integrated as part of Weston Regional Medical Center. The center includes St. Clare’s Hospital, the state’s only all-digital hospital.
“That’s nice because as you know, a lot of these EMR projects have been challenged if not complete failures,” he said. “If you look at some of the cost overruns, schedule overruns, and scaled-back expectations. That’s what we’ve been trying to avoid.”
The business case is enhanced since some physicians already use this platform, so even though Ministry Health Care and Marshfield Clinic are separate and sometimes competing providers, they will be clinically integrated.
There were other functional reasons for the choice. Weider said Marshfield has a very mature data warehouse infrastructure and a world-class bioinformatics research group. “We’ve read about organizations that have gone through very expensive, very time-consuming EMR implementation efforts,” Weider said, “and when they were done, they still had nothing in terms of data warehousing and the tools they need to manage clinical outcomes.”
Marshfield brought this technology and expertise to the table in a way that nobody else could, he added.
Although all vendors do this to some degree, there was a slight edge in the population management tools that Marshfield Clinic has developed, Weider said. Ministry’s goal is to not just to wait for the patient to show up in the examination room – it wants to be more proactive. With these tools, Weider said it will be able to see which diabetic patients, for example, are overdue for their eye or foot exam screenings.
Epic battle ahead
Bob Carlson, director of applied science for Marshfield Clinic, has noted there now are more Cattails users outside of Marshfield Clinic locations than inside. The product is used mostly in Wisconsin outpatient (ambulatory) settings, but the clinic also will integrate the product in hospitals and other healthcare settings.
With Ministry, Carlson acknowledged that Marshfield overlapped with Epic’s market, something that could occur with more frequency as Cattails is pitched in geographic areas outside of Wisconsin. At the moment, the product is used in regions served by Marshfield Clinic, which overlaps with Ministry, but the clinic plans to go national as the opportunity arises. Marshfield is talking to a couple of additional prospects, but it’s too early to make an announcement, Carlson said.
“As Epic goes into smaller market segments and as we expand, we’ll go head-to-head sometimes,” he predicted.
Carlson said the key benefit of Cattails is the tight integration of its practice management tools with its EMR, which allows users to proactively drive population interfaces to monitor the care habits of diabetic patients, for example.
Whether users opt for deeper business intelligence benefits depends on the extent to which they integrate Cattails’ data warehousing capabilities with other data, he said.
The opportunity to drive business intelligence is there, Carlson stated, “and we’ll be very interested in providing it for them.”
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