Hospital acquires new health record system Athenahealth

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Mineral Community Hospital will soon have a new electronic health record vendor to replace the existing Electronic Health Record (EHR) software system (Nextgen) according to a recent hospital press release. The new system, Athenahealth, will simplify patients admission process, exam, and billing completion.

The Mineral Community Hospital Board of Directors was involved with the process and agreed that Athenahealth would be a great improvement for the staff and patients, the release stated. The board, hospital providers, department managers and staff had been working with Athenahealth since July 2017 to build and customize the system for patients and facility needs. On-site training is scheduled to begin in March 2018 and a go-live date is set for April.

The contract with the current EHR system will expire on July 31, 2018. That system had been installed in April, 2014 and was “unproven technology and was much too expensive,” the release stated. “It was also inadequate for the purpose and needs of the facility.”

In early 2015, a two-year levy was passed by Mineral County residents to help pay down the debt related to the EHR, as well as a related credit line.

“Mineral Community Hospital came to the citizens of the county and explained that the debt the hospital was carrying, from choices the prior administration had made, had burdened the operation to the point that our viability was in question. These financial difficulties were partially due to the software that had been purchased for the electronic health record (EHR),” the press release stated. “Voters passed the levy to assist with keeping Mineral Community Hospital’s doors open. This act of faith, and the hard work of hospital employees to improve the status of the hospital, has created an atmosphere of trust, accountability and a culture of gratefulness to the community which continues today.”

Under the direction of the board, and after several months of investigating options, the new electronic health record vendor has been found to fit the needs of the hospital, “and will be of greater value to the patients.”

Athenahealth has other Critical Access Hospital clients in Montana, as well as across the nation. It is not a software company and there will not be a need to purchase software. Instead, Athenahealth is a cloud-based system with no up-front software costs. It also eliminated costs for updates to software. With the current system, they are paid as the facility receives payment from billed revenues.

“If we get paid, then they get paid. This arrangement better aligns incentives for them and us. It keeps the vendor looking at ways to better their system. When updates are made to the system, they are immediately available to all member hospitals at no additional charge,” the release said. Additionally, “Sharing your information with out of area and local primary care providers will be more efficient, which will improve the continuity of your care. An improved Patient Portal will also be available to patients.”

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