Evident at the heart of an Alabama hospital

By Rosie Lombardi

jonathan-etheridgeCullman Regional, a 115-bed medical center in North Alabama, has been a steadfast user of Evident’s Thrive EHR for more than a decade. The Thrive system was implemented back in 2004, when Cullman broke away from a larger hospital network and needed a local EHR system of its own. Thrive’s performance has been strong over the years, says Cullman’s CIO, Jonathan Etheridge (pictured). “In fact, one of the first major decisions that I had to make when I assumed my role last year was whether or not we were going to take advantage of Meaningful Use funding to replace our system. After we did due diligence on a couple of other systems, we concluded it was best to stay with Evident.”

Several factors played into the decision to stay with Thrive, explains Etheridge. “Thrive still meets our needs. We had no difficulty in attesting for Meaningful Use stage 1 in the first year, while other health systems needed two or three years to do that. And we recently received confirmation that our attestation for Meaningful Use Stage 2 has also been accepted. In addition, our hospital has won the ‘Most Wired’ award for two years in a row while on Evident’s system.”

Cullman Regional has also achieved HIMSS Stage 6 status on the current Electronic Medical Records Adoption Model (EMRAM), which is an important step in tracking their progress towards going completely paperless, he adds.

Thrive’s developers had the foresight to include features in 2004 that the hospital knew it would need for the long haul, he says. “My predecessors at Cullman were looking for a system that had advanced features. Evident already had many modules like CPOE and nursing documentation that are considered standard today under Meaningful Use but were pretty visionary at the time because they were not offered by many competing products.”

Other major decision factors: The system cost about 20 percent less than similar systems at the time, and Evident promised and delivered on a five-month implementation schedule, compared with the typical two year time-frame required by other vendors.

“The up-front support from Evident made a real difference in meeting the five-month go-live schedule. Evident was exceptionally helpful from the initial walkthrough to getting equipment ordered and set up.

There was a solid plan in place for meeting the deadlines and ensuring milestones were achieved.”

Evident and Cullman have worked closely together over the past 11 years, and this has allowed the hospital to play a role in evolving the system, says Etheridge. “Because of our strong relationship, we’re able to exercise some influence and have some say in how the system is developed.”

The Thrive system was developed 100 percent in-house, and Etheridge can attest that systems like these with a unified grand design are particularly robust. “They’re superior systems compared with others that are essentially a bunch of clinical modules cobbled together in an attempt to provide care across the spectrum.”

Thrive’s unified interface design and optimized workflows for every user role makes staff training quick and easy. “Several physicians that practice at other large health systems have told me that our system is the easiest to use. We’re able to get new nursing staff up and running on the system with a minimal amount of formal training. We only offer 8 hours of training with the nurse educator, and then we trust daily on-the-job training to take over from there. At most other hospitals, new nurses need a week or two of dedicated classroom time.”

The flexibility built into the system is what makes it easy to tailor to suit each unit, which in turn makes it easier to train staff. The nursing module is a case in point. “The ability to create E-forms and customized flow charts means we can tailor the system precisely for each unit. No information or buttons are presented to the nursing users that aren’t consequential to doing their jobs. It makes it easy to train them because what’s on-screen is exactly what they need to treat and chart the patient.”

In addition to the Thrive EHR, Cullman uses add-on system modules developed in-house and some specialty modules provided by other vendors. Integrating these with the core Thrive system has been straight-forward. “We’ve just gone live on a new ED information system and we had no problems integrating it. We’ve regretted needing to increase the complexity of our interface environment but there were no technical challenges getting the two systems talk to one another.”