Southern Maine Women’s Health Practice Honored for Use of Health Information Technology
Coastal Women’s Healthcare has received national recognition for their use of health information technology to improve patient care. The practice was honored by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at a ceremony held May 10th at the practice in Scarborough.
The Maine Regional Extension Center (MEREC), operated by HealthInfoNet, organized the ceremony to recognize Coastal Women’s Healthcare for their successful transition from paper to electronic health records (EHR) and for meeting rigorous standards required under new federal CMS "meaningful use" guidelines. They were further recognized as the first independent women's health practice to connect with Maine's health information exchange (HIE), operated by HealthInfoNet.
“When Coastal Women’s Healthcare asked us to help them meet meaningful use, we were surprised at how advanced they already were,” said Todd Rogow, Director of IT and the MEREC at HealthInfoNet. “As an independent practice, Coastal Women’s Healthcare’s use of technology to support patient care is exceptional.”
Beverly Neugebauer, Executive Director at Coastal Women’s Healthcare said they’ve always been ahead of the curve. “While our providers’ exceptional care of their patients is clearly our priority, the added element of new, secure technology helps us improve patient care while also increasing patient convenience.” She adds, “For example, electronic medical records have helped us ensure our patients are getting the best quality care, while our online patient portal makes it easy for our patients to complete necessary medical history forms, access their lab results or request appointments.”
Dr. Barbara Slager, MD, president of Coastal Women’s Healthcare, agrees that going electronic leads to higher quality care and patient satisfaction. “Patients now realize their chart is continuously up-to-date, organized and accessible. Now we can spend more time talking about their current problem, screening recommendations and lifestyle modification.”
Slager explains that the HIE goes one step further, allowing her to see tests and procedures done at other facilities, which helps her better coordinate her patients’ care and reduce duplication. “For example, if a patient has heavy periods and had a blood count done through their primary care doctor, I can pull up her latest numbers and recommend appropriate therapy. Eventually, I will be able to see her pelvic ultrasound too, including the actual images. This reduces redundant care, an important factor in current health care costs.”
In attendance at the ceremony were officials from CMS, representatives of Maine’s Congressional delegation, the Maine Medical Association and other Maine health care leaders. “I’m thrilled to represent CMS in honoring this exceptional practice,” said Rick Hoover from the CMS regional office. “At CMS we believe the use of health information technology will reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. We’re seeing an example of that right here in Scarborough, Maine.”
In a congratulatory letter from Senator Susan Collins, read by Sara Holmbom Lund from her Portland office, the Senator wrote, “Maine has long been a leader in the use of information technology to improve health care. Coastal Women’s Healthcare and HealthInfoNet are shining examples of Maine’s steadfast commitment to excellence and innovation in health care delivery and serve as models for others doing similar work across the nation.”
Also in attendance was Bethany Beausang representing Congresswoman Chellie Pingree who in a letter wrote, “Information technology offers exciting opportunities to improve health care for the people of Maine. In a rural state like ours, it helps patients get better-coordinated and higher quality care from widespread providers who may be miles apart. Technology in the doctor’s office can also reduce medical error, identify possible dangerous drug interactions, and enable providers to offer faster, more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans.”
About Coastal Women’s Healthcare
With seven physicians, two nurse practitioners, a midwife, and staff committed to creating a professional, caring, and respectful atmosphere for all patients, Coastal Women’s Healthcare is the gold standard of women’s healthcare in the state. Offering gynecologic and obstetric care, mammography, bone density, and minimally invasive surgery, Coastal Women’s Healthcare uses the most up-to-date technologies, medicine and practices to ensure the highest quality of care for patients throughout their lifespans. Coastal Women’s Healthcare is located at 71 U.S. Route One in Scarborough, Maine. For more information, go to www.coastalwhc.com.