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New year brings new focus at Powell Valley Healthcare

The new year begins with a jump start at Powell Valley Healthcare as leaders move from “reactionary” measures toward more visionary ones.

“I would say that we’re now dealing with some really important and really substantive issues,” said Bill Patten, PVHC chief executive officer. “In the past, they were important but more reactionary. The things we’re working on now are more proactive, trying to position us for the future.”

Four big events will take place during the month of January.

Davis Partnership, the company hired to rework Powell Valley Healthcare’s master facilities plan, will hold a public meeting Jan. 10.

A kickoff of the organization’s “Journey 2 Excellence” takes place Wednesday, Jan. 16. The main kickoff event takes place from 6:30-8 p.m. in the auditorium of the Nelson Performing Arts Center at Northwest College. Dr. Jay Kaplan of the Studer Group is the featured speaker.

A quality training organized by Powell Valley Healthcare is planned for Jan. 23 in Cody. During the training, Dr. John Combes of the American Hospital Association will speak to board members and other representatives of Powell Valley Healthcare, West Park Hospital (Cody), North Big Horn Hospital (Lovell) and Hot Springs County Memorial Hospital (Thermopolis) about hospital boards’ roles in overseeing and assuring quality.

Capping the month of January at Powell Valley Healthcare will be a “re-go-live” of two modules for the new NextGen electronic medical records system, slated to begin Jan. 28 or 29.

The re-go-live includes the financial module used in billing, a significant accomplishment since the ill-fated go-live attempt that began Aug. 7 and ended Aug. 31. After that, all billing information for that time period had to be re-entered manually into the old system.

In addition, it was discovered later that no bills were generated for as many as 14 surgeries, and perhaps other services, that took place during the initial go-live. To ensure that all charges are billed properly for that three-week period, the Powell Valley Healthcare board last month approved a contract with HealthTech Management Services, which will send a team this month to review charges for all surgeries and other services provided during the NextGen go-live period. The work is expected to take one week and will be more than compensated by identifying the missing charges and bills, Patten said. 

“Even one or two surgeries will more than pay for the project,” he said.

The re-go-live is the result of months of working with NextGen representatives to identify solutions for problems encountered in August, Patten said.

The other module that will go live again is for inpatients at the hospital. This time around, the NextGen system will be phased in instead of everyone starting to use it at the same time. Drs. Valerie Lengfelder and Michael Tracy volunteered to work with the system first; when they are comfortable with it, they will help train others to use it, Patten said.

Other modules will come online as they are perfected or become available.

“We got very good news from NextGen regarding the software upgrade that we need for the clinic side,” Patten said. “They told us that we’ll be put at the front of the line ... so we can go live with the newest software rather than go on the old one and convert.”

Patten said he doesn’t know yet when that will happen.

Once the new system is in place and working, Patten said he expects to have a conversation with NextGen representatives addressing compensation or redress for the go-live errors, difficulties and setbacks.

“How are they going to make us whole?” he asked. “We really haven’t taken the time to have those conversations yet, but I’ve made it clear that, at some point in the near future, we need to have those discussions. (For now), I thought it was more important to get the system working right and implemented.”

While frustrating and costly in terms of employee morale and extra work hours needed to address problems, the delay in implementing the NextGen system isn’t likely to interfere with federal incentives for achieving meaningful use requirements, Patten said.

“It does delay the time frame for being able to attest to the next level of meaningful use,” he said. “We attested to the first level of meaningful use based on the Health Land system. We already received a payment, and I think as long as we come live within the next three to six months, while our receipt of the money is delayed, I don’t think we’re going to lose anything.”

Patten said the events in January are part of his goal to move Powell Valley Healthcare forward and improve the organization.

“We’re trying to let go of the pain of the recent past and define the organization in a really positive way so we can meet the needs of the community for years to come,” he said. “The dust of all the turmoil of (former CEO) Paul Cardwell and all that has pretty much settled, and we can pretty much focus on the real business, the real reason we’re here. And that’s providing high quality health care for our community.”

1 comment

  • posted by Mike Wilson

    January 08, 2013 8:43 am

    Powell Valley Healthcare has come to the point where they need to stop blaming Paul Cardwell (Former Ceo-selected by primarily same board and Adminisrtative Team now in place)and rely on implementations of Patten. Leadership at Powell Valley Healthcare will hopefully "walk the talk" toward improvement, unfortunately they haven't been impressive the last two years.

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