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Wyoming's Winning Meaningful Use Strategy

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, September 7, 2011

It's not uncommon for critical access hospitals to think achieving meaningful use might be out of reach for their organization. But South Lincoln Medical Center in Kemmerer, Wyo., has confidently bucked that trend, becoming not only the first hospital in the state to achieve stage-one meaningful use, but also one of the first CAHs in the nation to do so as well.

"Realistically, we started the process five years ago," Eric H. Boley, CEO and administrator of South Lincoln Medical Center, said in an interview. "They hadn't come out with the HITECH Act and meaningful use wasn't even a catchphrase."

Instead, when the hospital first started investing in its health IT systems, its goal was to become paperless. But it really started to aggressively focus on meaningful use about a year ago, and because it already had much of the infrastructure, South Lincoln Medical Center had a leg up in some ways.

"Five years ago, we financed this thing and spent a million dollars," Boley said. "To actually meet the requirements, it didn't cost us a great deal of money because we already had all of the different components of what we needed in place."

However, the hospital did face other hurdles because of a lack of infrastructure in Wyoming.

"We had to jump through some huge hoops with the state just to meet some of the core measures," Boley said. "We had to build some interfaces."

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