Restarting a Provider Organization

By Wallace, Jim | Behavioral Healthcare, August 2007 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Restarting a Provider Organization


Wallace, Jim, Behavioral Healthcare


IT is an important part of a West Virginia provider's turnaround

The story of Northwood Health Systems, a behavioral healthcare provider serving three counties in northern West Virginia, could have ended in failure a decade ago.

The organization was a mess. Patient care had become substandard with serious regulatory compliance problems. Facing more than $ 5 million in debt and three-year operating losses of $3 million, the board of directors was close to filing bankruptcy and shutting Northwood down. Northwood's entire management team had resigned or been laid off.

Since then, Northwood has made a remarkable turnaround - largely built on skillful leadership and strategic investments in technology. Instead of giving up, the board hired Pete Radakovich as CEO in April 1997. It was a bold move, because he had no experience in healthcare. But ludid have 27 years of diversified executive management experience in threee distinctly different industries.

One of Radakovich's first steps was to invest in technology. Prior to 1997, Northwood wasin the "darkages" of computer and information technology. It had 570 employees, who were essentially computer illiterate, working at 20 locations with fewer than a dozen functional computers. Few processes were automated. The computer department consisted of two unskilled technicians. Parts and services for the obsolete central computer were scarce and expensive.

Three technologic developments were central to Northwood's transformation:

* designing a customized electronic clinical scheduling system;

* implementing an electronic medical record (EMR) system; and

* using thin-client technology.

Building a Customized Scheduling System

Before Northwood developed its own electronic scheduling system, nine full-time schedulers maintained dozens of paper appointment books. They were unable to schedule more than one clinician or patient into an appointment, such as for treatment team nieetingsorgroup therapy. Fven basic management tasks were difficult, because there was no ability to measure accurately the number of scheduled hours, patient no-shows, and staff cancellations.

An extensive search failed to yield scheduling software that met Northwood's needs. So, after beefing up its IT staff, Northwood designed its own software that gives schedulers access to scheduling information from any of Northwood's 19 locations at any time.

Integrated into the scheduling system is an automated appointment reminder system that phones patients automatically before their appointments, thereby reducing appointment no-shows and improving productivity. The clinical scheduling system allowed Northwood to reduce its administrative scheduling staff from nine to three people. Clinical staff productivity increased by as much as 30% and client no-shows decreased by an estimated 25 to 30%, resulting in an annual savings of more than $500,000.

Implementing an EMR System

An additional return on investment awaited Northwood upon implementing in March 2000 an EMR system, which won the Process Innovation Award later that year at the Solutions World ( 'onfeienee and Expo in Philadelphia. Prior to that, 12 employees struggled to manage millions of paper medical records for thousands of clients at 19 outpatient and residential sites. In no one location could a patient's entire medical record be reviewed. Misfiled paper records were common. Consequently, quality of care and patient safety were compromised.

Radakovich realized an EMR system was essential. Northwood purchased the MEDItrieve system from The IDP Companies, Inc., and then significantly modified and enhanced it to integrate it into many other systems developed internally. For example, the MKDItrieve system was integrated with patient and employee databases, billing and collect ions systems, and thecustom-designed scheduling system, among others.

Clinicians with appropriate credentials now can retrieve records I rom any of the organization's 19 locations.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Restarting a Provider Organization
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?