Who is MEDITECH … and what is this 6.0 thing???

By Phyllis Whitener, Director Patient Care Information Systems 

MEDITECH has been a leading vendor of HealthCare Information Systems (HCIS) for 41 years. Over the years, they have developed three different software platforms to meet the needs of their customers, to provide increasing patient safety, and to comply with changing regulatory requirements. Their latest product is known as 6.0, or MAT (MEDITECH Advanced Technology). We are currently on their Magic platform but will implement the 6.0 product with a projected Go-Live date of June 1, 2013. This is an entirely new product and will be like starting over for most MEDITECH modules.

MEDITECH 6.0 provides a comprehensive and integrated Electronic Health Record designed to help increase patient safety, streamline processes, and improve communication across departments and care teams. In addition, it helps staff react more quickly to issues and changing conditions by automatically pushing information out to the appropriate personnel and displaying it in a meaningful form.  Accurate, up-to-the-minute information is available where and when users need it, resulting in more informed and effective treatment and decision making. All applications are fully integrated, facilitating the exchange of demographic, clinical, and financial information between departments and care teams.

How will it impact me??

For starters, it is more “user friendly” to navigate and enter/find data. The GUI (graphical user interface) is very “Windows-looking” with point and click navigation rather than keyboard. Those dreaded mnemonics (A= apical, B= brachial, R= radial, etc.) are virtually gone for most modules. You will select from drop-down choices or click radio buttons beside the choice on the screen. There will be fewer layers to wade through in order to locate information.
All this improvement comes with some changes in our processes however. In order to reap the benefits of increased patient safety and an integrated patient record, we must streamline our workflow processes. We need to reduce redundancy and paint a clear picture of the patient’s condition and care provided using standardized terminology. For example, we cannot use the same abbreviation to mean different things in different places in the Electronic Medical Record.

Teams for each of the ‘modules’ within Meditech are being formed to provide representation from all stakeholders during this crucial development phase. Some of these reps will be working full time on the project, helping to build the screens that later you will document on. Others will help develop the plans and test the screens. All members of the teams will serve as ‘Go-Live’ trainers and support when the system goes live in 2013 …

Why are we making this change?

As with many things in healthcare, federal redulation brings about change. In this case, the federal government has in 2009 mandared healthcare change through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and the HITECH Act as part of ARRA. This is what is referred to as the stimulus package that will reward hospitals and physician practices for implementing electronic medical records and using them in a “meaningful way”. In a few years, the reward will turn into a loss of revenue through decreased payments if we fail to comply with the standards set by the law. MEDITECH’s new 6.0 product is certified and meets the “Meaningful Use” criteria set forth by regulators while providing a user-friendly tool for physicians and clinical staff alike.

What is the timeline??

For the clinical modules, teams will begin meeting in late spring 2012 to plan the re-design of our documentation screens and ordering processes. Physicians will also be involved in the MEDITECH 6.0 project. Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) will be implemented starting first with our Hospitalist group and ED Physicians, and perhaps the Psychiatrists. Physicians will also document in the electronic record in their own module called PCM (Physician Care Manager). (Think LEGIBILITY!)
Actual software for the clinical modules will be delivered early summer. Teams will then spend the next 8-12 months building and testing the system along with all the other outside vendors that interface with MEDITECH. Approximately 2-4 weeks prior to the ‘Go Live’ date, staff will be trained on the new system. Utilizing a “Big Bang Approach” …. Every MEDITECH module will implement the new system, all at the same time in 2013. EVERYONE will have something new to learn!

Change is not always easy, but in this case it will be worth the effort and the hard work. I’ve seen enough of it to know that you will like it better than what we have now. Nothing is perfect, and we will experience challenges and be faced with changes some of our processes. The 6.0 Project is a Hospital-wide effort and will require commitment from all employees whether they are actively invovled in one of the teams or not.

Join the process, be open and engaged and prepare for a new experience in 2013.