Springfield, MO

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Photo provided by MIKE MCCREARY
Photo provided by MIKE MCCREARY

A Conversation With ... Mike McCreary

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What is your job?
One of my main roles is acquisitions. I’m also part of the Epic project team – our electronic health records implementation. Any large system implementation is part of my job. … Within Mercy, we have more than 1,300 specific applications – anywhere from food service to radiation oncology dosing systems – and one of my roles is to make sure that those all work together.

Tell us about the Mercy/St. John’s conversion to an electronic medical record system.
We started a little more than five years ago. We felt like it was very important for our patients to have accurate information available to our caregivers anywhere they might be within Mercy facilities. … Using the MyMercy Internet portal, (patients also) can view their lab results, radiology transcriptions, all of that information. From a business standpoint … it allows us to be more efficient and effective as an organization.

On May 1, St. John’s in Joplin was the last Mercy hospital with more than 100 beds to go live on the electronic health records system. Did the e-record system perform as desired in the wake of the EF-5 tornado that hit that city?
The health records themselves performed better than expected, and by that I mean the night of the tornado, we were able to dispatch a team to start gathering the records for the patients that were in-house. We had 183 folks in St. John’s when the tornado hit. We were able to gather all of their records and have them available to send to wherever (the patients) were sent to. Some patients went to Freeman Health System, some went to Springfield, Pittsburg, Kan., Miami, Okla., … and we were able to have the schedules of upcoming surgeries and oncology visits.

Did you see anything that might need improvement?
I think the piece that really wasn’t anticipated is that Freeman was the other hospital standing and all the power was out. You’ve got to have a way to access (electronic records), which requires power of some sort, and connectivity to receive data transmissions. I think what we’ve seen is that there’s a gap between disaster occurrence and recovery time. … What we ended up doing was printing (records) off in Springfield, and we shipped people out with paper. I think that gap’s going to be there for a while until all facilities have figured out how to keep the power up and keep communications up during something like (a tornado), which is a pretty tall order. … We have backup generators, but what happened in this particular case, was that everyone was asked to shut all electrical equipment down because of gas leaks.

Describe the rebuilding process and your role in it.
We set up the mobile medical unit, and it’s fully outfitted so that they’re using the electronic medical records. We have laptops on carts in there, and people are being registered in the (electronic record system) as they present.

The next phase is that we’re bringing in modular buildings for clinics to house physicians in, and a modular hospital that I believe is going to be near the mobile medical unit. We’ve begun long-term planning to rebuild a hospital in Joplin. I believe a site selection committee already has been formed.

We have about 17 different work streams around rebuilding Joplin, and information technology is one of those, so I’ll be engaged until we’re back at 100 percent. … It was such a terrible tragedy, but just to see the way that the organization reacted to it, … I’m really proud of our organization.

What other goals and challenges are you balancing right now?
We still have many rural access hospitals that we need to bring online (to the electronic record system). In September, we have five hospitals going live in Arkansas and Oklahoma, and next April, we have four rural hospitals connected to the Springfield St. John’s that will be going live (along with) physician clinics and practices along the way, as well as any facilities that join Mercy. I’ll get to work with them as well to get them on-boarded into Mercy and begin the process of outfitting them with standard systems and infrastructure.[[In-content Ad]]


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