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Knowing Your HIM Department Could Help with EHR Implementation

Lisa Eramo, for HealthLeaders Media, August 13, 2009

The saying goes like this: There's no ‘I' in teamwork.

And as a hospital embarks on the arduous and costly journey toward an electronic health record (EHR), this saying couldn't be truer. The hospitals that achieve a successful EHR implementation are the ones in which the C-suite and HIM director work collaboratively to achieve the goal.

At Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian in Newport Beach, CA, HIM Director Leslie Scarborough, RHIA, says an open relationship with her CIO played a large role in her being able to serve as a major contributor in the hospital's successful EHR implementation. "I think having the lines of communication open helps. My CIO is very open and knowledgeable about the HIM department and understands what we do," she adds.

Scarborough began reporting directly to the CIO four years ago when she became more active in the EHR initiatives at the hospital.

"I think it's worked in my favor," she says, adding that her collaborative relationship with her CIO has also scored her invitations to IT leadership meetings during which she could address back-end issues of how the EHR would affect the legal medical record, HIPAA compliance, and security and access to information.

Without the direct reporting structure, she says it would be difficult to interact regularly with her CIO and keep him abreast of the status on different projects. Currently, the two meet weekly to discuss various initiatives and their impact to HIM. "I think I'm really fortunate to report to someone who is really interactive and wants to understand," she says.

At McAlester Regional Health Center in McAlester, OK, e-mail is a vehicle used to keep the lines of communication open between the HIM department and CFO, says Glennda Gore, RHIA, vice president of corporate compliance and risk management. E-mails typically include a weekly list of unbilled accounts (dollar amounts) and daily transcription backlog reports.

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