West Texas RHIO Receives Texas Rural Health Association Honor

Recognized for its innovative use of information technology, the West Texas Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) received an Outstanding Program Award from the Texas Rural Health Association. The prestigious award was presented at the Texas Rural Health Forum, held in San Antonio today.

In an unusual example of competing hospitals collaborating, the CEOs at the initiative’s four founding hospitals — Ted Matthews, Nathan Tudor, Randy King and Rick DeFoore — implemented the same remotely hosted EHR system. As a result, the program is leveling the playing field for rural hospitals wanting to tap into the benefits of EHRs and serving as a technology implementation model for smaller hospitals across the state of Texas and perhaps across the country.

“This program clearly demonstrates how technology can be used to improve care in rural Texas communities. What’s really impressive, though, is how these hospitals came together in a spirit of cooperation to overcome some of common obstacles that stand in the way when rural organizations try to tap into powerful systems such as electronic health records,” said Paula Winkler, TRHA board member and chairman of the 2011 TRHA Award Selection Committee. “The fact that they have been able to experience success in such a short period of time proves that with the right technology and the right implementation model, all hospitals can truly experience the benefits of electronic health records. In tough times like these, we need more cooperation for the common good and certainly the RHIO has assisted toward that end.”

To jump start the initiative, Ted Matthews, formerly CEO at Anson General Hospital and now CEO at Eastland Memorial Hospital, worked closely with Dave Darnell, Senior Program Administrator at the Texas Department of Rural Affairs to secure funding. Matthews wrote a grant proposal and secured about $500,000 in funding to help overcome some of the initial obstacles to implementing an electronic records system.

The funding is just one of the ways that the RHIO members are overcoming obstacles. The participating hospitals also are maximizing efficiency by standardizing training, protocols, procedures and policies. Since its inception in 2010, the West Texas RHIO has grown from its original four hospitals — Anson General Hospital, Stamford Memorial Hospital, Stonewall Memorial Hospital and Throckmorton County Memorial Hospital — to a total of eight hospitals including Eastland Memorial Hospital, Hamlin Memorial Hospital, Otto Kaiser Memorial Hospital and Seymour Hospital.

To support the innovative model, the hospitals are collectively tapping into the ChartAccess® Comprehensive EHR from Prognosis Health Information Systems, a Houston-based company. The solution is delivered via a web-native “cloud computing” model, where the software applications are made available as a service over an encrypted health information network. The web-native solution is intuitive and easy-to-use, offering built in analytics and health information exchange (HIE) capabilities, which can help critical access and community hospitals provide consistent, high-quality patient care. Several of the RHIO hospitals have already leveraged the system to achieve “meaningful use” under the government’s electronic health records incentive program.

“The West Texas RHIO illustrates how progressive organizations with visionary leaders can take advantage of information technology to vastly improve care in their communities,” said Ramsey Evans, CEO of Prognosis. “We are offering the ‘disruptive innovation’ that makes it possible for healthcare organizations that had formerly been left on the wrong side of the digital divide to realize all of the clinical and operational benefits associated with electronic health records. Instead of vainly trying to implement multi-million dollar, client server systems — which can take years to get up and running — we are offering an affordable web-native alternative that can be implemented in just 120 days.”

About Prognosis Health Information Systems

Prognosis Health Information Systems (PHIS), Houston, aims to improve the quality and safety of patient care through ChartAccess, a certified Comprehensive EHR. Designed to be fully operational in less than six months at a predictable, affordable cost, the solution enables hospitals to meet meaningful use and improve patient outcomes by leveraging built-in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) milestone and quality measure tracking functionality. PHIS uses 21st-Century technologies to offer small community hospitals a pure browser-based system that can run on-premise or in the cloud. For more information, go to www.prognosishis.com.