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South Lincoln Medical Center News

SLMC First to Meet Electronic Health Records Milestone

South Lincoln Medical Center reached a significant milestone recently for using electronic health record (EHR) technology under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program.

SLMC is the first hospital in Wyoming and one of the first Critical Access Hospitals (CAH) in the nation to complete 90 days of demonstrating EHR "meaningful use" as defined by the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services (CMS).

A CAH is defined by CMS as a rural hospital located at least 35 miles from any other hospital and maintains no more than 25 inpatient beds. South Lincoln Medical Center is a 16-bed facility that has been serving the area since 1961.

Having reached this mark, South Lincoln will attest to CMS that the hospital qualifies for a federal incentive payment from Medicare. The Medicare EHR Incentive Program is a CMS effort designed to encourage the adoption and use of electronic health records. The Wyoming Department of Health is developing a Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, which is also likely to provide incentive payments to SLMC later this year.

Wyoming Department of Health Director Tom Forslund said, "South Lincoln Medical Center's achievement is a welcome demonstration that electronic health record initiatives can be successful in Wyoming."

Forslund's department, which includes Medicaid, has been promoting EHR use in Wyoming. As one step toward reaching the "meaningful use" milestone, SLMC transmitted an electronic record from SLMC's EHR system to the Wyoming Department of Health's Total Health Record system, a department of health information technology initiative. "We see a critical role for EHR technology in improving efficiency and quality of care for the state's patients," he said.

SLMC employees were involved with the selection and installation of the appropriate software and training to meet "meaningful use" guidelines. "Our focus has been to improve the quality of patient care and patient safety in addition to improving the exchange of information among healthcare providers and patients through our EHR," said Eric Boley, SLMC Chief Executive Officer.

SLMC received support and technical assistance from Health Technology Services, which has been designated by the federal government as the Regional Extension Center (REC) for Wyoming. The REC works under a cooperative agreement with The Office of the National Coordinator which allows smaller facilities the affordability to achieve their health IT goals.

The Medicare EHR Incentive Program was authorized under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Digital Mammography at SLMC

South Lincoln Medical Center has converted to digital mammography. The hospital received a grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and upgraded its mammography services. The award was used to purchase a state-of-art digital mammography unit. An upgrade to the radiology workstations, mammography room, and patient changing area is in progress.

"This acquisition is a major enhancement to the services that we offer our patients. Although the new equipment has a similar appearance to the patient, the quality of the examinations is superior, with increased sensitivity and decreased radiation dose," said Robert Berlin, M.D., Staff Radiologist.

Similar to a digital camera, a digital mammogram instantly produces a clear image that can then be magnified, enhanced and manipulated, improving the chances of detecting subtle abnormalities. In many cases, digital mammograms can pinpoint more serious cancers earlier, meaning treatment can begin sooner.

"There is no wait time for film to be developed, so images are reviewed in the exam room to evaluate their quality, shortening exam times," said Sandy Gaughan, Radiology Supervisor.

"Along with conversion to digital mammography, we will take the opportunity to enhance the experience at the hospital," said Eric Boley, Administrator. "We will update the radiology department, creating a more comfortable, private setting for our patients. I'm grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for making this possible. We are excited to offer state-of-the-art testing here in our community."

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