OKLAHOMA CITY – June 9 was a big day at Mercy metro hospitals. Some may even call it epic. Mercy’s electronic health record (EHR), called Epic, launched Saturday, adding El Reno and Logan County to the network of 24 hospitals and countless Mercy clinics on the system.
“We’ve been training a long time for this,” said Doug Danker, administrator of Mercy Hospital El Reno. “And we can already see how this system is going to make the lives of our patients and our providers easier. The biggest change we see is we’ll be using a lot less paper, so charts are easier to keep track of and we’re being environmentally friendly.”
The advantages go on and on – less paper, no sloppy handwriting, no waiting for records to be transported. Mercy Clinic doctors, nurses, practitioners and specialists will have immediate access to patient records from every nurses’ station, exam room and doctor’s office across the four states Mercy currently serves: Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
It’s full of advantages for patients, too. Next time a doctor asks a patient when the last time she had her cholesterol levels checked, she doesn’t have to wrack her memory trying to come up with an accurate answer. The doctor can pull up the patient’s electronic medical record, look at the patient’s history of tests and decide whether it’s time for another test, or not. This could potentially save patients the cost, time and anxiety of going through redundant testing.
Another advantage is communication. Mercy Clinic doctors are informed when their patients have appointments with other Mercy Clinic specialists, or visit any Mercy urgent care facility or emergency room. That means primary care providers can perform the follow-ups necessary after unexpected medical visits.
Plus, as EHR continues to roll out, patients will have access to their medical records, and the records of their kids and other people whose health they manage, using MyMercy. This patient portal to the electronic health record allows patients to schedule appointments with their physician, communicate via private two-way messaging with their care team, see lab results in a timely manner, request prescription refills, pay bills online and in some cases conduct e-visits – virtual medical consultations being piloted at Mercy. More than 200,000 patients are enrolled in MyMercy.
It’s a big learning curve for co-workers, but Mercy has been implementing EHR for nearly a decade. Co-workers in El Reno and Logan County have been training for eight weeks. For two weeks starting Saturday, 90 co-workers from other Mercy locations who are experienced with EHR will take turns travelling to both hospitals to support staff during the switch.
“I’m really proud of the way our co-workers are embracing this new technology,” said Josh Tucker, administrator of Mercy Hospital Logan County. “Our top priority is always to care for our patients the best way possible – EHR helps us do that. Now we can easily see all of the patient’s medications, allergies and lab results. Since all of this information is right there in their EHR, our physicians can readily access this to ensure we are prescribing the best choice of treatment for our patients.”
A federally mandated electronic conversion of patients’ health records was instituted in 2009, but Mercy was ahead of the curve, beginning the transition in 2004 with a $450 million investment.
Electronic health records for all 3 million patients served per year at Mercy are safe in the Mercy Data Center. Known as the “Fort Knox of Data Storage,” the $60 million, high-tech data center – built to withstand tornado-force winds and constructed in an area removed from earthquake fault lines – sits on a bedrock foundation in Washington, Mo., and has access to alternate sources of power. It’s capable of transferring the entire contents of the Library of Congress in less than 6.5 seconds. For more about the Mercy Data Center, click here.
Such forward thinking has gained Mercy national attention, like being named Health Care’s “Most Wired” by the American Hospital Association in 2011, an honor recognizing hospitals for adoption, implementation and use of information technology.
Mercy CEO Lynn Britton was in 2012 honored with the CEO IT Achievement Award – an award bestowed annually to only three health care leaders in the U.S. More than 60 health care leaders were nominated for the award, co-sponsored by Modern Healthcare magazine and the Health Information and Management Systems Society, which recognizes CEOs who demonstrate a commitment to using IT to advance their organizations’ goals.
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,600 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.
By Mercy's Laura Keep
A long list of innovative approaches in caring for patients landed Mercy on Becker’s Hospital Review of “61 Integrated Health Systems to Know.” For starters, Mercy:
According to Becker’s, as the health care industry moves from a fee-for-service model to a pay-for-performance system focused on quality patient care, integrated health organizations are better positioned to provide greater access to a range of health services. Mercy, among others, has also achieved a high level of integration as demonstrated through a group of physicians who collaborate with hospital leaders to provide better coordinated care.
“Mercy Clinic includes more than 1,500 medical providers across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma,” said Fred Ford, chairman of Mercy Clinic’s leadership council. “This isn’t about being bigger and better. It’s about patients having access anywhere and at any time across the four states Mercy serves. It’s also about tracking our patients’ care via our electronic health record to ensure everyone is on the same page. Ultimately for patients, it means much more coordinated care.”
Linked through Mercy’s electronic health record, primary care and specialty physicians across Mercy have access to a patient’s record at any hour and at any place in the world.
“Because we are electronically connected, the care is seamless and we can be much more responsive, not waiting on reports or records to be faxed or delivered by some archaic method,” said Sean Baker, D.O., Mercy Clinic family medicine physician in Fort Smith, Ark. “We have immediate access to the information we need to make critical decisions and an entire team is focused on our patients’ needs. By being partners – primary care physicians, specialists and hospitals all working together – we’re empowered to maximize how well we care for our patients.”
Mercy is also currently transitioning all of its 31 hospitals and more than 200 outpatient facilities to one simple, easy-to-recognize name – Mercy.
“We owe it to the 3 million patients we serve each year to know us by one name,”said Lynn Britton, president and CEO of Mercy. “These patients already have an integrated network of hospitals and caregivers at their disposal – we don’t want there to be any question about where and how they can tap into it.”
Mercy is the eighth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 31 hospitals, more than 200 outpatient facilities, 38,000 co-workers and 1,500 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.
About Becker’s Hospital Review list
Health systems were selected for inclusion on this list based on data from health care analytics company SDI, nominations and careful research by the Becker’s Hospital Review editorial team. Becker’s Hospital Review is a bimonthly publication offering up-to-date business and legal news and analysis relating to hospitals and health systems.
Every year, thousands of people suffer from diseases from which they could've been protected. That’s according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is marking August as National Immunization Awareness Month.
Mercy’s Dr. Laura E. Waters, who specializes in pediatrics, says if you remember one thing about immunizations, it’s that they’re safe.
“That’s the biggest worry among patients and parents, but there has been a lot of research around how we administer them and their schedules,” Dr. Waters said. “In fact, the Institutes of Medicine recently concluded the CDC’s vaccinations and recommended schedules [see below] aren’t harmful. Plus, there have been no proven studies showing vaccines and autism are linked.”
Vaccination can protect children from more than a dozen serious diseases, such as influenza, measles and whooping cough. Pregnancy is a time to start focusing on your child’s immunity; expectant mothers should get a flu shot every year, as well as the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) during every pregnancy to ward off whooping cough.
“Children over the age of 6 months are recommended to get a yearly flu shot," Dr. Waters added. "Those over the age of 2 can receive the injection or the nasal mist depending on risk factors or age,” Dr. Waters added. “Children ages 4 to 6 are due for boosters for four vaccines: DTaP (diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis), chickenpox, MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) and polio. Unfortunately, vaccines that are given during the adolescence period (ages 11-12) are often forgotten. Those are the Tdap, MenACWY (meningococcal conjugate vaccine) and HPV (human papilloma virus) vaccines.” The meningitis booster is given at age 16-18.
Hepatitis A vaccines are now standard, and recommended for all children older than 1. “We usually administer that during the adolescent period if they haven’t had it in childhood,” Dr. Waters added. “There are two doses, six months apart.”
Preteens and teens are also at risk for diseases. “Those groups have a better immune response than if you start later in life, so it’s a critical time,” Dr. Waters explained. As school gets back in session, it’s important that your kids’ vaccines are up to date. “Mercy gives patients the ability to use the MyMercy account to look up those vaccines. Print that off and check them off your list.”
Dr. Waters says young adults should get the Tdap vaccine once if they didn’t get it as an adolescent. They’ll then need a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster every 10 years, as well as the HPV vaccine if they haven’t already. “The goal is to get that started before becoming sexually active. The HPV vaccine is very effective against cervical cancer among females, as well as genital warts and throat cancers in both sexes.” Young women and men who have not started or finished the HPV vaccine series may be vaccinated through age 26.
According to the CDC, immunization is especially important for adults 60 years of age and older, and for those who have a chronic condition such as asthma, COPD, diabetes or heart disease. Immunization is also important for anyone who is in close contact with the very young, the very old, people with weakened immune systems, and those who cannot be vaccinated. The need for other adult vaccines – such as shingles, pneumococcal, hepatitis, HPV – depends on age, occupation, travel, health status, and other risk factors.
“If everyone around you is protected against a particular disease – which is one of the things we focus a lot on at Mercy by having co-workers immunized – we can become immune as a country. That’s how we eliminated smallpox.”
To learn more about National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM), click here.
CRYSTAL CITY, Mo. – The father of three children, Jacob Peyton, M.D., recognizes the importance of the doctor who is in the delivery room with the new parents and is proud to share that experience with new mothers and fathers.
“It’s really a privilege to be a part of that big life event,” Dr. Peyton said. “The way you conduct yourself, they are going to remember that forever. I have really enjoyed the experience in labor and delivery.”
Dr. Peyton has joined the staff at Mercy Clinic OB/GYN – Jefferson, seeing patients in the South Medical Office Building, 1400 US Highway 61 South, Suite 340. He specializes in minimally invasive gynecologic surgeries and comes to Mercy Jefferson after completing four years of residency at Mercy Hospital St. Louis.
“We take care of a wide range of women’s health issues,” Dr. Peyton said. “We serve somewhat as a primary care physicians, and we stay in contact with the patient’s primary care or specialists. We also are a referral source to send patients to other specialists as needed.”
Being a resource for his patients is important. “I am really passionate about shared decision making when it comes to medical care,” he said. “My role is to educate the patient, to weigh risks and benefits, and give them all the information, so that they can make an informed decision about their care.”
The OB/GYN specialty is dependent on the patient’s overall health because of the potential affect on the patient and baby in the case of pregnancy. He said women should see their OB/GYN physician annually.
“The rate of cervical cancer has fallen dramatically because of regular screening, and one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. Mammography can catch that early,” Dr. Peyton said.
With MyMercy, the free, online health management tool, you can stay in touch with Dr. Peyton and your entire Mercy Clinic care team. You can request appointments, see lab results and more, anytime or anywhere.
“One of the great things about Mercy is the integrated electronic medical records system. Anything I do or order for a patient can be seen by other providers, and we can keep track of our patients and their health,” Dr. Peyton said.
Mercy Clinic OB/GYN – Jefferson is accepting new patients, and most insurance plans are accepted. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 636-937-1545. Learn more at www.Mercy.net and see Dr. Peyton’s profile at http://bit.ly/MercyDrPeyton.
KINGFISHER, Okla. – For Dr. Erin Balzer, a new family medicine physician at Mercy Clinic in Kingfisher, a passion for medicine runs in the family.
Her father is a family medicine physician in Edmond, her mother and stepmother are both nurses and several other family members are also in the medical field.
“I spent time as a child volunteering at nursing homes where my mother worked and hanging out in my dad’s office and going on rounds with him,” said Balzer. “I’ve always enjoyed learning about the way the body functions when someone is healthy and when things go wrong. I chose family medicine because I love to care for people during all stages of life.”
Balzer is excited to build strong relationships with her patients in the Kingfisher area and share her medical knowledge.
“As a doctor of osteopathic medicine, I have been trained to care for the whole patient — body, mind and spirit,” she said. “ I hope patients feel at ease when talking to me. Building strong relationships with my patients will lead to better communication and trust as we work together to achieve their health goals.”
Balzer received her doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences in Kansas City, Missouri, and completed her residency in family medicine this June at St. Anthony Hospital in Oklahoma City.
Outside of work, she enjoys nature photography, crocheting, gardening and outdoor activities. She also likes spending time with her husband and her 7-year-old stepson. Now that she is done with her residency program, she looks forward to developing new hobbies.
To make an appointment with Dr. Balzer at Mercy Clinic in Kingfisher, located at 1000 Hospital Circle in Kingfisher, call 405-375-6355. She offers the following services to patients:
· Same-day appointments for acute illnesses or injuries
· Diagnosis and treatment of adult and pediatric conditions
· Flu shots and other immunizations
· Wellness visits for children, adults and the elderly, including gynecological exams
· Sports and occupational physicals
Patients will also have access to MyMercy, a free service so they can connect with their health care team and manage their health online at any time.
Most family reunions don’t happen in a hospital hours away from home after a specialized surgery. But for two sisters with new right knees who hadn’t seen each other in years, it’s been a wonderful experience.
Judy Howell works for Walmart in Bentonville, Ark., and was days away from scheduling a knee replacement surgery when she learned that she could have that surgery, with no out-of-pocket costs, two hours away in Springfield. At the same time, her sister, Jan Senkbeil, who works for Lowe’s in Ypsilanti, Mich., had been putting off a knee replacement for three years.
“As soon as I read the email at work that said we could get knee and hip replacements for no additional costs, I texted my husband,” said Senkbeil. “I told him, ‘I’m getting my new knee for free!’”
The benefit took effect on Jan. 1, 2014, after Walmart and Lowe’s joined the Pacific Business Group on Health Negotiating Alliance to enhance the medical care their employees receive while reducing costs. Employees and dependents who are enrolled in the companies’ medical plans are eligible for no-cost knee and hip-replacement surgeries at one of four hospital systems that have been named “Centers of Excellence.” Those included in this first of its kind national COE network are Mercy Hospital Springfield in Springfield, Mo.; Johns Hopkins, Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Md.; Kaiser Permanente Orange County Irvine Medical Center in Irvine, Calif., and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Wash. Along with no out-of-pocket medical costs, the coverage also pays for travel, lodging and living expenses for the employee and a caregiver.
“When I found out this took effect on January first, I was on the phone on January second,” said Howell. Meanwhile, Senkbeil started faxing in her paperwork. But the sisters hadn’t told each other about their surgery plans. It took a post on Facebook for them to realize they were taking advantage of the same benefit at approximately the same time. “At first I wasn’t sure if that was her status or if she liked my status,” laughed Howell. They hadn’t seen each other since 2009.
Turns out, the two had the same coordinator and medical navigators making all their arrangements, so they mentioned the coincidence. “That’s when they did some real coordination to make sure we could overlap for at least part of the time,” explained Senkbeil.
The sisters both started researching Mercy Orthopedic Hospital Springfield and the doctors who were assigned to their surgery. They traded notes, and read everything they could get their hands on to make sure this was the best decision for both of them. “When I found out this facility really was one of the best in the nation, I was sold,” said Howell.
Howell had her surgery on Thursday, Feb. 20, while Senkbeil’s surgery took place on Tuesday, Feb. 25. Both are recovering well and looking forward to a better quality of life, which is exactly why the program was designed: to provide the best care while reducing employees’ medical expenses.
Family reunion aside, the sisters agree going away for surgery was actually easier than having it done in their home towns. Mercy arranged everything from transportation to hotel accommodations and medical appointments. “There were no logistics to worry about, other than getting someone to cover for me at work and stocking the refrigerator for the house sitter,” said Senkbeil.
Howell agrees. “I’ve felt like a celebrity! Plus, being out of the home setting allows you to focus on what you’re here for.” Senkbeil added, “At home you do what needs to be done, but this is all about me and I love it.”
Howell works in program management for Walmart’s information system department, and says she knows a good process when she sees one. “This really is a Center of Excellence. They had a vision for what a facility could be and here it is. Plus, they have the right team in place to make it all happen.”
The sisters aren’t only pleased with the program and their surgeries, they have a real appreciation for the employers who made it all possible. “Lowe’s is very forward-thinking, and this is a really great benefit to offer associates. When you give great benefits, you get great employees,” said Senkbeil. Howell chimed in, “Walmart has found an appropriate way to control costs for its associates while making sure the care is the absolute best. I think it’s great.”
After this experience, both sisters think other companies should look into destination medicine agreements. “I think it’s the future of health care in the U.S.,” said Howell. The impromptu family reunion was a great bonus, too. “We got to catch up on the nieces and nephews,” Howell said with a smile.
Pleasanton, Kan. – The Mercy Clinic Family Medicine Linn County staff are pleased to announce Marianne Ray, M.D., will join the practice effective March 3, 2014. Dr. Ray will practice family medicine.
“We are delighted to have Dr. Ray as part of the Mercy health care team,” says Jay Allen, MD. “Dr. Ray’s passion for caring people’s health care needs make her an excellent match for Mercy.”
Dr. Ray compares herself to a mechanic, “a professional who can diagnose and fix a variety of problems.”
Dr. Ray was born is a small, rural community about 20 miles from Paris, France. She says, “A small town is a good fit for me and I look forward to caring for patients of all ages.”
“My role as a family medicine physician is to assist my patients in attaining the best health possible.”
Dr. Ray will also serve as a member of Mercy Hospital Ethics Committee.
Dr. Ray earned her medical degree from the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine in Miami, FL. She completed her Family Medicine Residency at University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS. Her professional memberships include the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Kansas Association of Family Physicians.
Dr. Ray will see patients at Mercy Clinic Family Medicine Linn County located at 11155 Tucker Rd., Pleasanton, KS. To make an appointment with Dr. Ray, call the clinic at 913-352-8379.
This is a big week at Mercy Hospital Watonga. Some may even call it epic. Mercy’s electronic health record (EHR), called Epic, launches connecting the hospital to 31 other Mercy hospitals, and nearly 2,000 providers and specialists across four states.
“We’ve been preparing for this and we can already see how this system is going to make managing health easier for our patients,” said Bobby Stitt, administrator of Mercy Hospital Watonga. “And it means patients in Watonga – who may not have local access to medical specialists they need – benefit from the input and experience of those specialists in other places like St. Louis, Springfield and Oklahoma City.”
If a Mercy Hospital Watonga doctor needs a second opinion, he can call on any of the 1,900 providers across Mercy to help. With Epic, those Mercy specialists have immediate access to the patient’s medical history, test results and physician notes.
The advantages go on and on – better access to specialists, less paper to store and manage, no sloppy handwriting to misread, no waiting for records to be transported from a lab to a doctor. Mercy Clinic doctors, nurses, practitioners and specialists will have immediate access to patient records from every nurses station, exam room and doctor’s office across the four states Mercy serves: Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.
It’s full of advantages for patients, too. Next time a doctor asks a patient when the last time she had her cholesterol levels checked, she doesn’t have to wrack her memory trying to come up with an accurate answer. The doctor can pull up the patient’s electronic medical record, look at the patient’s history of tests and decide whether it’s time for another test, or not, potentially saving patients the cost, time and anxiety of going through redundant testing.
Mercy Clinic doctors are informed when their patients have appointments with other Mercy Clinic specialists, or visit any Mercy urgent care facility or emergency room. That means primary care providers can perform the follow-ups necessary after unexpected urgent medical visits.
Plus, as EHR continues to roll out in Watonga, patients will have access to their medical records, and the records of their kids and other people whose health they manage, using MyMercy. This patient portal to the electronic health record allows patients to schedule appointments with their physician, communicate via private two-way messaging with their care team, see lab results in a jiffy, request prescription renewals and pay bills online from any computer or Internet-ready mobile device. More than 200,000 patients today are enrolled in MyMercy.
It’s a big learning curve for co-workers, but Mercy has been implementing EHR for nearly a decade. Co-workers in Watonga have been training for eight weeks. Co-workers have been learning every aspect of the Epic system such as: registration, patient scheduling, procedure documentation for lab and radiology, nursing and physician documentation in the medical record, medication administration and charting. Even co-workers in finance and medical records require specialized training on this system. For two weeks starting July 1, 90 co-workers from other Mercy locations who are experienced with Epic EHR will take turns traveling to Watonga to support staff during the switch.
“This is a big change in the way we’re doing things, so it’s a challenge,” said Stitt. “But I’ve been really impressed with how quickly our co-workers have picked it up. We know it’s a worthwhile effort, and we’re excited to be a part of this change. We’re making health care history.”
A federally mandated electronic conversion of patients’ health records was instituted in 2009, but Mercy was ahead of the curve, beginning the transition in 2004 with a $450 million investment.
Electronic health records for all 3 million patients served per year at Mercy are safe in the Mercy Data Center. Known as the “Fort Knox of data storage,” the $60 million, high-tech data center – built to withstand tornado-force winds and constructed in an area removed from earthquake fault lines – sits on a bedrock foundation in Washington, Mo., and has access to alternate sources of power. It’s capable of transferring the entire contents of the Library of Congress in less than 6.5 seconds. For more about the Mercy Data Center, click here.
Such forward thinking has gained Mercy national attention, like being named Health Care’s “Most Wired” by the American Hospital Association in 2012, an honor recognizing hospitals for adoption, implementation and use of information technology. Mercy CEO Lynn Britton was honored in 2012 with the CEO IT Achievement Award – an award bestowed annually to only three health care leaders in the U.S.
For more about Mercy Technology Services, click here.
Mercy is the sixth largest Catholic health care system in the U.S. and serves more than 3 million people annually. Mercy includes 32 hospitals, more than 300 outpatient facilities, 39,000 co-workers and 1,900 integrated physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. For more about Mercy, visit www.mercy.net.
Mercy Clinic Fort Scott announces Leigh Scharff, APRN-FNP, has joined the practice full-time as of November 12. Scharff’s primary responsibilities include nurse practitioner coverage at Mercy Clinic locations including the two Mercy Convenient Care Clinics.
Scharff’s clinical experience includes Nursing Administrator/Relief Supervisor and Staff Nurse at Allen County Hospital, Office Nurse at Allen County Family Practice as well as Nursing Instructor at Neosho Community College in Chanute.
She is a licensed Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and is board certified as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Scharff holds certifications in Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS), Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) and Advanced Fetal Monitoring (AWOHNN).
“As a nurse practitioner, I work as a partner with my patients, guiding them to make health care decisions and healthy lifestyle choices,” said Scharff. “I am excited and look forward to becoming informed, in touch and involved in my patient’s health care at Mercy.”
Scharff earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing and Masters of Science degree in Nursing from Pittsburg State University.
She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, National League of Nurses, and the Kansas Association of Student Nurses as a Faculty Representative.
Scharff resides in rural Allen County.
For more information or to contact Leigh, call Mercy Clinic at 620-223-8040 or toll-free at 888-637-2937.
OKLAHOMA - As the federally mandated deadline to implement electronic health records (EHR) approaches, many hospitals are scrambling to make it work. Mercy started implementing EHR in 2004 and is among only 7 percent of hospitals nationwide with a system sophisticated enough to access and share medical records among multiple Mercy facilities in a four-state area.
All but one Mercy hospital in Oklahoma, and all 64 Mercy Clinic facilities, are up and running with EHR. June 9, Mercy launched EHR at Mercy Hospitals Logan County and El Reno, making the number of Mercy hospitals on EHR across four states 24. Mercy Hospital Watonga, which joined Mercy July 1, 2012, will go live on the network by the end of this year.
In this story by The Journal Record's Sarah Terry-Cobo, Mercy Regional President Di Smalley talks about why EHR is an important investment, regardless of a federally mandated deadline.