With MEDITECH’s EHR, Doctors Hospital Delivers Integrated Care to Island Patients
For many people, life in the Bahamas suggests crystalline blue waters, chaise lounges, and white sandy beaches. But for the staff at Doctors Hospital, the Bahamas’ premier healthcare facility, the island locale also brings some unique challenges to their care delivery efforts.
We recently spoke with CEO Charles Sealy, Chief Financial Officer Joanne Lowe, and Vice President of Management and Information Systems Chadwick Williamson to learn more about Doctors Hospital, and how they are using their MEDITECH EHR to keep patients healthier and happier.
To begin, tell us what is unique about being a healthcare organization in the Bahamas.
Williamson: Doctors Hospital is a private hospital, in a region where residents have a choice between public health system and private insurance. Just under 50 percent of the Bahamas population have privatized insurance, and those patients have the option to seek care from us or to seek out other forms of private healthcare, or offshore hospitals.
So, geographically, there is a lot of healthcare competition in our region—including facilities in the Caribbean, Cuba, and South Florida. People naturally want to go to the hospital with the best track record for outcomes. This drives us to monitor our quality very carefully, to make sure we are delivering the safest, most efficient care we possibly can. And, of course, our EHR plays a big role in keeping us on track.
Sealy: It’s also important to note that because our area is a vacation destination, we see a very diverse patient population—both locals and tourists. Having an EHR is crucial for our clinicians to be able to view and track information, no matter where our patients come from or last received care. No one wants to have a health issue when you’re on vacation, but when it happens, those patients should feel as comfortable and safe visiting Doctors Hospital as they do when they are on their home turf.
What made MEDITECH the right choice for Doctors Hospital?
Lowe: Everything started with our desire for more information, and to use that information to give a better experience to our patients. Once we decided that we wanted to be a healthcare leader for our region, the decision to go with MEDITECH really was a natural one for our Board of Directors. We wanted to be the best, and we were fortunate to have the support of our executive leadership, who made all the right choices to make it happen.
MEDITECH’s long record of success and the integration between their clinical and financial systems were the top criteria for us. Other systems just didn’t work for what we wanted to do.
How was MEDITECH able to accommodate your financial system needs?
Lowe: One of the big differences between the finances of healthcare in the US versus the Bahamas, is that we live in a cash-based society. Payments here are made upfront. Fortunately, MEDITECH has experience with UK hospital systems, and they were able to use their knowledge of that market to build our system accordingly. We’ve found that working with the MEDITECH EHR, data flow from patient entry to collection is seamless. It’s exactly what we needed.
And how have your clinicians adapted to using electronic health records?
Williamson: Even though our clinical staff represents 24 different countries and a variety of ages, overall it’s been quite good. Every clinician here knows that the EHR tools help to make them more efficient. There is absolutely no resistance to learning them. Electronic documentation has become one of our strongpoints—we thrive at it!
It helps that quality and patient safety are the driving factors for everyone here. If new technologies are the means to achieve these things, then that’s what we’re going to master.
Has the public responded favorably to your care improvement efforts?
Sealy: Absolutely. Ours is a publicaly traded company, so the population is extremely interested in our development and progress. In turn, we are heavily invested in patient feedback. We get responses from 60-70 percent of our patients, and responses rate Doctors Hospital above the 90th percentile. The EHR is certainly a part of our strategy to help keep patients engaged and healthier over the long term.
What does the future hold for Doctors Hospital?
Sealy: We are working towards becoming a hub for clinical research. There are some new healthcare areas—such as geriatric practices, joint surgery, and stem cell therapy—that have a real potential for improving people’s lives, and we want to be involved at the forefront.
Of course, to take on cutting-edge medicine, you have to make information collection and analysis a priority, and that’s what our EHR investment is all about. We believe IT is the foundation of healthcare’s future, and we want to use as much of it as possible.