Patients and providers in rural communities often struggle with access to health care. Unlike living in a large city, patients don’t have numerous health care offerings at their fingertips. “There is a shortage of providers in a rural community, which limits access to acute care services for patients,” said Greg Reinart, CEO of Hereford Regional Medical Center.
Hereford Regional Medical Center is a full service rural health care facility in Hereford, Texas. It offers a full range of services from allergy clinics to home health care services and serves a community of 19,000 people.
While access is a major challenge for rural hospitals, knowledge is another unique challenge these hospitals face. “Getting information out to patients around the services we offer isn’t easy,” said Anthony Tijerina, CNO of Hereford Regional Medical Center. “We could go five years and a patient may never know we have surgery offerings.”
In December 2015, Hereford announced plans to implement Cerner CommunityWorks, an electronic health record (EHR) system for rural hospitals and critical access centers. “Cerner enables us to provide our patients with the most up to date, innovative and user-friendly EHR,” said Reinart.
Being able to view and access medical records, book appointments, pay bills and more is a huge benefit for a medical center that serves a county of 19,000. All the information available in the EHR will help patients take control of their own health. By creating one health record per patient, Hereford plans to educate its community on all the services the center offers.
In addition, the Cerner patient portal will give Hereford patients one point of access for their health record regardless of whether they are seen in the clinic or hospital setting. The patient portal will be used to better communicate and educate Hereford’s patient population.
Providers will also benefit from the new system, as it will help improve patient safety and the patient experience. Records located within one system will assist providers to better diagnose patients and provide real-time information. The system will reduce dual documentation and missed documentation since information will only need to be entered once. As a result, the clinical documentation will drive charges and Hereford should realize better charge captures within the Cerner system, ensuring the proper capture of information for use in a medical claim document.
Hereford has enrolled in a state-wide community care organization to help give chronic patients a healthier lifestyle. The organization is designed to assist chronic patients to remain compliant with their regimens and provide a resource for them to reference, rather than incurring costly medical services that could otherwise be avoided. With Cerner CommunityWorks, Hereford Regional Medical Center will be able to focus efforts towards these patients easier and proactively manage them in the community.
“I firmly believe that we are a large rural facility and will become a premiere site by providing the best care and transparency within our community,” said Reinart. “I see nothing but great things ahead for us, our patients and the surrounding community in the future.”