Native News Network Staff in Native Health. Discussion »
TAHLEQUAH, OKLAHOMA - Seven years ago, the Cherokee Nation transferred its medical records from manual to electronic record keeping at its nice health centers and W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah. Recently, this electronic record keeping system was certified through the Oklahoma State Medicaid Electronic Health Record incentive program.
Electronic Health Record Incentive Program
With this certification, the Cherokee Nation became the first tribe eligible to receive incentive payments.
The first installment of the incentive payment was $21,250 and was presented to Dr. Greggory Woitte, a provider who qualified for the incentive at Cherokee Nation's Hastings Hospital. Woitte qualified by having a specified percentage of his patients on SoonerCare, Medicare and Medicaid while utilizing the electronic health records system.
"This is a great day for Cherokee Nation Health Services. We pride ourselves in being a leader in many aspects of health care but we definitely have been a leader in the Electronic Health Records system," said Melissa Gower, Cherokee Nation Health Services group leader. "Our goal is to be a comprehensive, integrative health care system. A seamless system across our jurisdictional area and the electronic health records is a very valuable tool in assisting us to get there. It means better health care for the patient and it means better quality care provided by our physicians because they have real-time access to patient information."
Mike Fogarty, CEO of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority said the significant amount that Cherokee Nation's health care providers qualify for pales in comparison to the financial impact of having the electronic health records system in place, and he believes the improvement in quality of care will be an investment that pays off for many years.
Fogarty and other officials say using electronic health records offers a number of advantages to both the patients of the Cherokee Nation health system and the tribe's health care providers. Having patient records in the system linked electronically gives doctors a complete health picture for their patients. That means better care coordination and fewer repetitive tests as providers are now able to share information about a patient's history of care. For instance, the doctor who delivers a baby at W.W. Hastings can now review records of the mother's prenatal care received at one of the tribe's health centers.
Cherokee Nation will receive installment payments for the next six years for its use of the electronic records system to reach a total of $63,750 per qualified provider. Additional providers who work throughout the tribe's health care system are in the process of qualifying to receive the incentive payments.
In January, the tribe joined other health systems in Oklahoma to participate in a national launch of an incentive program to use electronic health records. The launch was part of an effort with US Health and Human Services and part of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to employ meaningful use of electronic health records.
posted July 18, 2011 7:15 am edt
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