FHR's electronic health record attains HITECH Certification

Published 08/11/2015

CARe joins select list of provider-owned electronic healthcare records

(L-R) FHR’s CIO Vaughn Reid, IT Manager Jim Spencer, Senior Programmer Kyle Sawaia, IT Help Desk/Field Technician Andy Roudabush, and CARe System Coordinator Maryann Allard

In today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment, an electronic healthcare record (EHR) infrastructure is more critical than ever.

10 years ago, Fellowship Health Resources, Inc. (FHR), a non-profit organization providing mental health and addiction services, faced a crossroads, as it sought a more robust healthcare system that could meet the agency’s needs as it expanded, both geographically and in its service array.

“At that time, our IT Department took a very long look at our current program, CIS, and its capabilities,” explained Vaughn Reid, Chief Information Officer. “We decided that a record with a stronger base was needed, one that was going to have a backbone to deal with what our organization was about to embark on, which included providing services in new states and offering outpatient programs.”

After significant research, FHR found that its wide variety of services in multiple states made pinpointing the right fit for an efficient healthcare system challenging. Discrepancies with information needed within each county and state’s services made ongoing expenses associated with an EHR cost prohibitive.

“The decision was made to develop our own system – one that was controlled, built from our clinicians’ point of view, and was as user-friendly as possible,” said Jim Spencer, IT Manager. “This way, all of the input could be recorded at a base level, and then converted to fit the needs of each region. We named this system CARe, short for Consumer Access Record.”

CARe became FHR’s comprehensive record inclusive of all behavioral health and medical integration. From this point forward, all contact made with each individual was documented in the system, as well as demographics, prescriptions, assessments, treatment plans, and diagnoses.

The next obstacle was to have CARe become HITECH Certified, which entailed demonstrating that Meaningful Use standards were met. These measurement thresholds range from recording patient information as structured data to the exchange of care records.

“Staff at all levels were involved with this testing period – senior leadership, the IT department, FHR’s clinicians, physicians, and regional directors,” shared Maryann Allard, CARe System Coordinator. “A focus group for a usability study was also completed, where tasks were assigned and staff members in different roles were asked to perform each step. The staff would then determine how easy it was to complete each task and the results were evaluated.”

After a two and a half year process of testing and coding to ensure all federal guidelines were met, FHR received the news that its homegrown system had passed certification.

“We are proud to be in the minority of behavioral healthcare organizations to have our own EHR that is HITECH Certified,” said Pamela Daisey, FHR Chief Operating Officer. “CARe not only enhances the continuity of care for the individuals we serve, but provides leverage to our funders as we can meet the federal reporting requirements.”

FHR's Certificate of EHR Compliance: