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Akron Children’s recognized as a national leader in health IT

11-06-2018 (Akron, Mahoning Valley, Ohio )

Akron Children’s Hospital has achieved Stage 7 status through HIMSS Analytics, a not-for-profit subsidiary of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society. This puts Akron Children’s in the top 6 percent of hospitals nationwide to fully attain paperless electronic medical record (EMR) implementation.

“This is a milestone achievement for Akron Children’s Hospital,” said Grace Wakulchik, president and CEO. “It represents our commitment as an organization, and the dedication of our Information Services Division and our caregivers, to ensuring that we have the best technology available to deliver the highest quality care at the bedside. Our investment in Epic is an investment in the health and wellbeing of the families we serve, and it is integral to our vision for the future.”

Akron Children's has invested more than $50 million in Epic, which now covers all inpatient and outpatient areas.

Harun Rashid, chief information officer, said reaching HIMSS Stage 7 was challenging because of the stringent requirements. According to the Journal of Medical Internet Research, most U.S. hospitals won’t achieve this elite status until 2035.

"A survey team visited the hospital to ensure our EMR technology was being used in a multidisciplinary way to achieve maximum value for our staff and patients,” he said. “We are in an elite group of users who have a complete end-to-end story of a patient’s journey through our health system allowing for a comprehensive view of the patient’s record leading to more efficient and cost-effective care.

“In practical terms, that means when patients move from one department to another staff won’t have to ask the same questions about their allergies or medications,” he added. “A patient's X-rays, lab results and medical history are all easily accessible to the doctor or nurse caring for the patient in any area of the hospital.”

The risk of medical errors is also reduced as the EMR has checks in place via barcode scanning to ensure the "five rights" of medication administration – that the "right" patient is getting the "right" medication in the "right" dose, at the "right" time, and by the "right" route. Entering prescriptions into a patient’s EMR also means illegible handwriting can’t cause a medication error.

One of the requirements of the hospital’s Stage 7 journey included a case study showing where the hospital gained value and made efforts in improving quality. The PICU served as one of the focus areas for the case study. By implementing the use of asthma treatment plans, patient education and administering flu vaccines before discharge, the hospital saw a 74 percent reduction in costs associated with asthma medications in the PICU.

In addition to its Stage 7 designation, the hospital also recently achieved “Most Wired” distinction for its fifth consecutive year. The Most Wired survey provides industry-level benchmarks for IT adoption for operational systems, security, patient engagement and clinical performance – recognizing organizations with exceptionally high IT systems and integration throughout their enterprise.