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New User Group Forming For Electronic Health Records

TROY -- More than 150 people gathered Wednesday at a Beaumont Health System learning center for the initial meeting of the eMUG, the Electronic Health Records Michigan User Group.

According to Subra Sripada, executive vice president and chief administrative and information officer of Beaumont Health, the mission is to unite the electronic health systems in Michigan currently using health care software from Wisconsin-based Epic Systems.

There are 11 hospital systems using Epic in Michigan. Besides Beaumont, they are Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo; Covenant HealthCare, Saginaw; Henry Ford Health System, Detroit; Hurley Medical Center, Flint; Lakeland HealthCare, St. Joseph; Metro Health, Grand Rapids; Oakwood Healthcare, Dearborn; Sparrow Health System, Lansing; Spectrum Health System, Grand Rapids; and University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor. All were represented at the meeting Wednesday.

The group's mission statement is to foster "a collaboration of ideas and knowledge, resulting in enhanced care for our patients."

Janet Campbell, lead developer of future enhancements at Epic Software, gave the group a look at future versions of Epic. She asked the group not to share too many details with the media and competitors; suffice it to say the software basically tracks patients in the hospital like the screens over the patients in Star Trek's sickbay -- only you can get the information anywhere, securely, on a tablet or smartphone.

Brian Vargo, of Beaumont's project management office gave the group an overview of the "meaningful use" requirements of electronic records that was part of the federal stimulus. Meaningful use of electronic health records, which qualifies a doctor for incentives now and turns off penalties scheduled to go into effect in 2015, requires a doctor to demonstrate work flow changes, and to meet 15 core requirements, meet five of 10 "menu" requirements, and issue reports on six quality criteria.

Dan Belknap, client services manager at the Ann Arbor-based Altarum Institute, where he works on the Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption, a federally funded program to help primary care providers become meaningful users of electronic health records, offered figures on how many Michigan doctors are involved (currently about 7,500, although only few of those have  demonstrated meaningful use).

Beth Derwin, senior corporate counsel for revenue and regulatory affairs at Beaumont, pointed out that the first push for electronic health records was two executive orders from former President George W. Bush in 2004 and 2006, not President Obama's stimulus.

She ran down the various points of liability that hospitals have with electronic records, including documentation, reliability, storage and transmission, and recounted the formation of Beaumont's "recovery team" to mitigate electronic health records problems after a laptop with patient records was stolen in 2006.

And Charlie Caine, senior director of IT at Beaumont, ran down the hospital's health information exchange strategy and status.

After the general session, the group participated in breakout sessions ranging from health information training to how to create a call center to IT privacy and security to giving patients access to their own medical records.

For more information on the user group, email

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