217447 Meaningful use of the Omaha System: Planning the transition to an EHR

Monday, November 8, 2010

Judith G. Riemer, RN, CNS, MS , Nursing Consultant, Riverside, CA
The nation's public health is in transition due to the creation and use of electronic health records (EHRs). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 requires “meaningful use” of information technology (IT) as a way to improve the health of all citizens, including the most disadvantaged. The decision to adopt a standardized terminology such as the Omaha System and the purchase of new hardware or software do not constitute “meaningful use” of IT alone. The transition to the use of a standardized terminology and computerized documentation system requires careful planning and partnership among administrators, staff, and vendors to ensure that use of the EHR increases quality, safety, and efficiency of care while improving population and public health. Utilization of a computerized means to document and organize clinical data using a standardized well-accepted terminology provides public health nurses and other public health professionals with a powerful tool for the collection, aggregation and analysis of data. It allows accurate measurements of outcomes at the individual, family and community level, facilitating population-based care and evidenced-based research as well as client involvement in care. However, even the most positive proposed changes in agency practices frequently engender resistance and frustration at both the staff and supervisory levels. This presentation will describe several useful strategies to plan the transition to the use of an EHR and a standardized terminology such as the Omaha System in public health agencies, including how to identify optimal team members among IT, administrative, and clinical staff; how to work with vendors to set EHR goals; geographical considerations; the use of training databases and other training tools; the development of guidelines; the setting of reasonable timetables for various stages of implementation; the use of chart audits; and the use of Focus Groups.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
By the end of the session, the participant will be able to: 1. Identify five strategies that can be used to help in the transition to the use of an EHR and a standardized clinical terminology. 2. Describe how geographical barriers can affect the acceptance and implementation of a new electronic documentation system. 3. Identify factors that can sabotage your timetable of implementation. 4. Define how and when to utilize a Focus Group during the implementation process.

Keywords: Information Technology, Public Health Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have actively worked in the development and implementation of public health documentation systems since 1980 as a clinician (1980-2006) and as a consultant (2006-present). I currently serve on the Omaha System Board of Directors. I have previously presented several papers at APHA and other conferences on the use of standardized terminologies and electronic documentation in public health agencies. This paper presents updated information to assist public health professionals transition to the use of a standardized terminology such as the Omaha System and the use of an EHR.
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
CHAMP Software, Inc. Public health information technology Consultant

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.