Returned money is money well spent at PMH
Working on a deadline set by the previous administration, the Pocahontas Memorial Hospital board of directors made a decision to not throw good money after bad at Friday's special meeting.
The hospital has had a $50,000 grant in-hand from the West Virginia Healthcare Authority to upgrade the HMS server in preparation for EMR, or Electronic Medical Records.
The idea of turning loose of $50,000 was unsettling at first, given the hospital's financial history these past few years.ﾠ
But bound by the specifics of the grant application, PMH would be required to kick in a $50,000 cash match to purchase a server they weren't ready to commit to - at a total price of $125,000.
IT Aaron Vaughn and CFO Chad Carpenter contacted three facilities that use the HMS system. These references were provided by HMS.
Of the three contacts, Vaughan heard back from two facility representatives.
"They're experiencing some of the same problems that we're having," Vaughan told the board.
Those problems included breakdowns within the system and being "nickeled and dimed" by HMS.
"We did some evaluations," Interim CEO Steve Whited told the board.ﾠﾠ"The result was to hold off and evaluate a little bit further."
Interim CEO Barbara Lay had asked for, and received, an extension to May 30 for the April 2010 grant.
Lay submitted a revision focusing on EMRs rather than the purchase of a new server.
But that revision was denied.
"It is my recommendation that we do not purchase the server at this time," Whited told the board.
"We don't throw away HMS," he said. "We look for avenues of software that will interface with HMS."
Whited advised the board that there was another grant cycle in the works with the healthcare authority.
Grant applications are due by May 31, and will be awarded on July 1.
It is the recommendation of the healthcare authority that PMH purchase computers, networkingﾠ andﾠﾠ infrastructureﾠ that would better serve this facility, he said.
Doing so would give the hospital the ability to adapt to any type of EMR.
Electronic medical records can improve care by enabling functions that paper medical records cannot deliver.ﾠ
EMRs will bring the hospital into compliance with the "Meaningful Use" requirements set forth by the federal government.
Meaningful use means being able to properly document the history of what has been done for patients in an appropriate manner and, prove that they have been properly billed, Whited told the board.
Steps toward Meaningful Use have been made at PMH, and full compliance is required by 2014.
As PMH works toward that compliance, and given the uncertainty about HMS' product, the board agreed to return the $50,000.
If PMH receives $50,000 in the next grant cycle it can be used for what was specified in Lay's revision.
"Our biggest stumbling block is inefficiencies, compatibility and time between computers within the facility," said Whited.
The new grant application will be geared toward getting computers up to specs.
With the original grant the hospital was going to have to put up a $50,000 cash match.
The benefit of the new grant application is that the match of $50,000 can be in-kind," Whited said.
"We can match, with this process, with operating expenses that are already in place with the fees paidﾠ to Minnie Hamilton."
Vaughan has contacted other suppliers and is waiting for quotes for EMR software and servers.
Whited, working against the May 31 deadline for the new grant application, knew how he was going to spend the Memorial Day holiday.
If the new grant application is approved, the money will be used to purchase 50 desktops computers, five notebooks, UPS back-ups, surge protectorsﾠand five back-up hard drives, tools for networking, as well as a wireless bridge from the clinic to the hospital.
"All of this, we need to do whether we go with HMS or not, said board president Dr. Bob Must.