Jun 2014

AWARE on track to adopt electronic health records

Tabitha Utz and Leslie York

By this time next year, electronic health records (EHR) should feel like the norm for AWARE staff and customers.

Whether they work directly with families in a community or provide administrative support services, AWARE staff seem eager to make the transition to digitized records. Jeremy Nelson, CEO of the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Afia Inc., the company that is helping guide the transition to EHR, spent a day in early November with about 35 AWARE staff members, explaining how electronic health records will be implemented over the next 10 months.

The system is expected to “go live” in the fall of 2014.

Afia’s immediate first goal was to define staff roles and get a head start on tasks that will be required by Netsmart, the company whose myEvolv software program will be used as AWARE’s EHR.  The EHR system is expected to improve efficiency, quality of care and cut costs.

But AWARE CEO Larry Noonan sees a bigger purpose for the move.

“We are adopting electronic health records for all those reasons — to improve quality of care and to memorialize all the work we do — but it really causes us to reach a whole new standard that the highest quality services, hospitals and providers in the country have reached,” Noonan said. “The thing we are most excited about is that this helps us hit a level of quality and service that does not exist in Montana in the human service industry at our level.” He noted that AWARE’s psychiatry program needs to function “at the highest level possible and that program’s needs brings the rest of us along with it.”

AWARE’s move to EHR mirrors other efforts, such as CARF reviews, that the company has undertaken to improve quality, Noonan said. “We came away with no recommendations for improvement from the CARF folks in our last review,” he said. “That is indicative of how doing things like being accredited helps raise the quality of what we’re doing. While CARF helped us get to a high level, the medical records effort will help us stay there and continue in our growth to levels and heights that no other organization can match.”