W.W. Hastings Hospital emergency room physician Thomas Franklin uses a mobile cart while diagnosing a patient.
Published January 28, 2017
TAHLEQUAH — Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital is among a select few hospitals in the country nationally recognized for using electronic medical records and other technology to advance health services for patients.
The Cherokee Nation received notification earlier this month that it is now certified as a stage 6 hospital from the Chicago-based Health Information & Management System Society.
The nonprofit reports just 30 percent of the more than 5,400 hospitals in the United States have reached stage 6 qualifications. There are 19 hospitals in Oklahoma certified as stage 6, and the Cherokee Nation and Muscogee (Creek) Nation are the only tribes with the certification in the state.
“Implementing electronic health records was a huge endeavor for the Cherokee Nation and not an easy task, but we are seeing the tremendous benefits, including better quality of patient documentation, which increases the level of care of our Cherokee Nation citizens,” said Donnie Parrish, chief information officer for Cherokee Nation Health Services Health IT division. “As the Cherokee Nation applies for grants and accreditations, the technology component is a key part of obtaining those awards, and so we’re extremely grateful to now be certified by HIMSS for our technology advances.”
Cherokee Nation Health Services began working to upgrade its technology a few years ago.
In 2015, the Cherokee Nation implemented electronic health records for patients. Prior, half of Cherokee Nation’s patient health records were paper and half electronic, and many patients had multiple charts at multiple Cherokee Nation health centers. That made it difficult to access all of a patient’s files quickly or even to share information between health professionals.
Hastings’ medical providers recently started using mobile technology carts with laptops to diagnose patients from their rooms, which directly upload to electronic health records. W.W. Hastings Hospital also has an online pharmacy refill and patient portal for patients to access their information.
“HIMSS Analytics congratulates Cherokee Nation W.W. Hastings Hospital for making significant progress towards achieving advanced health IT adoption,” said Global Vice President of HIMSS Analytics John H. Daniels. “Stage 6 represents a level of sophistication that can lead to innovative health care transformation.”
Advantages for being a stage 6 hospital, according to HIMSS, include better recruitment over competitors, documented health improvements and being positioned to give quality data results to stakeholders, grantees or other medical facilities.
“Using this type of technology has a direct impact on improving patient access and quality of care in the Cherokee Nation,” said Connie Davis, executive director of Cherokee Nation Health Services.
The Cherokee Nation operates the largest tribal health system in the country. It oversees W.W. Hastings Hospital and nine other health centers in northeastern Oklahoma. In fiscal year 2016, the tribe had more than 1.1 million patient visits.