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Wednesday, Jun 6, 2018

Ballad Health board authorizes adoption of Epic as its common technology platform

Health system forms board committee, including seasoned expert, to oversee implementation and development of advanced technology strategy

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – In a move designed to enhance technology, provide tools for innovative research and sustain the highest level of quality patient care to the region, the board of directors of Ballad Health has approved a plan to adopt an integrated technology platform that will bring all hospitals and points of service together as an integrated system.  The platform will provide a personalized health record for every person who uses a Ballad Health service – a health record available to each individual on their personal computer or even their mobile device.

Ballad Health has selected Epic as its technology partner for implementing a common, comprehensive electronic health record.  Epic is rated the No. 1 overall software suite by KLAS Research, a prominent healthcare information technology insights company. Other health systems currently using Epic include the Cleveland Clinic, Duke University Health System, Geisinger Health System, Johns Hopkins Medicine, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Mercy Health, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Wake Forest Baptist Health. Wellmont Health System adopted the Epic platform in 2014. The rollout of Epic throughout the rest of Ballad Health will be done via a multi-year phased approach, with the first new facilities coming online in 2019, and completion of the conversion occurring in spring 2020.

Ballad Health will leverage Epic’s interoperable data exchange technology, which means patient data will remain more secure but can be more easily accessed and utilized by providers and the patient to help improve care.  This conversion to Epic will also streamline services, such as scheduling, clinical applications, financial, and population health initiatives. Providers will be able to interact with other providers and health care organizations, regardless of where those organizations are located or which system they use.

The Ballad Health board also announced it has appointed a new board committee, including a seasoned expert in health information management, to ensure optimal integration of the new system. The new board committee will also work to develop a long-term data strategy designed to ensure patients can optimize their health utilizing the technology investments of Ballad Health.

The new board IT strategy committee will be chaired by Barbara Allen, and its membership will include:

  • Dr. David May, chair of the Ballad Health quality committee
  • Scott Niswonger, founder of LandAir and ForwardAir
  • Dr. Amit Vashist, chair of the Ballad Health clinical council
  • Gary Peacock, Ballad Health’s finance chairman
  • Dr. Jerry Blackwell, Ballad Health’s chief medical officer
  • Tony Keck, Ballad Health’s chief population health officer
  • Alan Levine, Ballad Health’s chairman and chief executive officer

A nationally recognized expert in IT has also agreed to serve on the committee.

  • Bill Spooner, with 40 years of healthcare experience, retired after serving 18 years as chief information officer of San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare, a 2,100 bed, $3 billion health delivery network. He currently serves as an advisor to health systems on strategy, innovation and performance improvement and has a focus on new payment models and analytics around population health. During his time at Sharp, Spooner led the effort placing Sharp on the Hospitals & Health Networks Most Wired list for 14 of its first 16 years, and he contributed to its recognition as a recipient of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. The recipient of the John E. Gall, Jr., CIO of the Year Award, Spooner is a member of the Health Information and Management Systems Society and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), which he served as chair of in 2006. He received CHIME’s inaugural Public Policy Award and was named by Information Week as one of 25 leaders driving the healthcare IT revolution. He serves on the organizational risk and corporate responsibility committee of the Adventist Health System, and served on the boards of the National eHealth Collaborative and the Digital Pathology Association and on the Healthcare IT News editorial board. Spooner lives in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

“Attracting an expert with the national reputation of Bill Spooner is tangible evidence of Ballad Health’s desire to find the best people to help us achieve our goals,” said Alan Levine, chairman and chief executive officer of Ballad Health. “ Mr. Spooner’s focus on innovation and analytics related to population health and new payment systems is a perfect fit. This board committee will be important as it provides oversight of our conversion to a common information technology platform, as well as our adaptation to new payment systems and our shift toward population health.

The common technology platform is one of the key priorities of Ballad Health as it seeks to be one of the nation’s highest quality healthcare systems. The common data will enable physicians to better coordinate care, and assist the health system in identifying and deploying best practices for patient care. Through Epic, each Ballad Health patient will have a single medical record, allowing physicians and other caregivers within the system to seamlessly collaborate on patient care and provide appropriate treatment. For example, a primary care physician, a cardiologist, a pathologist and a surgeon could have access to all pertinent notes on a mutual patient. This connectivity contributes to better patient safety and helps lower cost by reducing duplicate testing and helping to prevent adverse medication interactions from different prescribers. Additionally, a common technology platform will make Ballad Health a logical partner for research opportunities, which will contribute to diversification of the region’s economy.

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