To Douglas Hawthorne, chief executive officer of Texas Health Resources, a healthcare organization is like a coat. And information technology is the lining.
It has to permeate the organization, and thats been the most difficult thing to advance, he says. It impacts the entirety of the system. Hes a dedicated advocate of using information technology to achieve systemness within an organization, and eventually to connect all the healthcare providers in a community to improve care.
Hawthorne, 61, has been CEO of Texas Health Resources since its creation in 1997 as a merger of three Dallas-area healthcare organizations: Harris Methodist Health System, Presbyterian Healthcare Resources and Arlington Memorial Hospital Foundation. Before the merger, he was CEO of Presbyterian, where hed worked in various capacities since 1971.
From the beginning, he has made EHR for THR a priority, planning for the adoption of a systemwide electronic health record by 2010. The installation of a $200 million EHR system, which Texas Health Resources calls CareConnect, is in full swing, using the EHR product from Epic Systems Corp. Three of the systems 12 acute-care hospitals have shifted to the EHR and computerized physician order entry, and half the physicians at those hospitals have already embraced CPOEa notable percentage in a situation where almost none of the physicians are THR employees.
To get to 100%, THRs medical leadership recently passed a get tough resolution that requires physicians to start using CPOE by October or face losing their admitting privileges, says Chief Medical Information Officer Ferdinand Velasco. They realized that in order to get better patient care, we cant continue to have laggards, he says. THR is already seeing positive results: Theres been a dramatic drop in the incidence of deep-vein thrombosis because the system reminds clinicians to take routine preventive measures.
Outpatient information is also vital to getting the information technology lining in place, and to that end, THR will be taking advantage of the recent relaxation of the Stark anti-kickback rules to subsidize EHR purchases and implementation for its 3,600 affiliated physicians. About 80 physicians so far have inquired about the offer, which would include a choice of three different physician-office EHR systems.
The organization has already been active in getting its own patient data into physicians hands: Its CareGate physician portal lets affiliated physicians access inpatient data at THR hospitals and is used by 90% of THRs top admitting physicians.
At the same time, Hawthorne has pushed for the development of a financial portal to give leaders and managers a one-stop roundup of financial and productivity data, as well as an intranet-based budget tracking and capital equipment acquisition approval system.
For these projects and for his passionate promotion of information technology, Hawthorne has won a 2008 CEO IT Achievement Award from Modern Healthcare and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society.