In Grace Awards
University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, Madison, Wisconsin

Early Adopters of the EHR Reap Rewards

University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) first began their electronic health record (EHR) journey in the 1990s by interfacing labs, radiology, and transcribed documents. In 2008 they took the next step in utilizing health information, adopting the motto “great information, great care” and uploading all documentation from the previous electronic system into a new EHR that spanned inpatient and outpatient areas.

By beginning the journey to an EHR early and developing a solid innovative plan for expansion, UWHC was able to become the first academic hospital to attain stage 7 of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s (HIMSS) EHR Adoption Model-the highest level. The model scores hospitals in the HIMSS Analytics Database on their progress in completing eight stages (0-7), with the goal of reaching stage 7-the pinnacle of an environment where paper charts are no longer used to deliver patient care, according to the HIMSS website.

Today, UWHC electronically captures all documentation either through direct data entry, interfacing from ancillary systems, or scanning, including documentation from outside facilities. This provides a totally electronic version of a patient’s health record. When UWHC says they are serious about longitudinal care, they back it up by retaining records dating from the start of the hospital in 1924 to the present day. If a provider decides that any of the paper documentation is pertinent to the patient’s ongoing care, HIM professionals scan the information into the EHR and then destroy the previous paper record.

Recently, UWHC began implementing several innovations that included automated electronic auditing of all scanned documents to enhance patient identity. UWHC also employs palm vein scanning technology to quickly and accurately identify patients who may be uncommunicative or unconscious. This technology assists with medical identity fraud and theft.

UWHC also harnessed the power of their EHR to systemically track patient’s preventive care. This is in the form of a reminder flag that indicates to the provider that a patient is near a due date or overdue for a test or procedure. On the other side, UWHC encourages patients to use a secure patient portal that allows them to view portions of the EHR, receive test results, schedule appointments, and communicate directly with their physicians. Additionally, this portal allows secure access to insurance, claims, and billing information through a partner health insurance program.

When looking at the overall EHR established by UWHC, Grace Award judge Gloryanne Bryant, RHIA, CCS, CDIP, CCDS says she was “particularly impressed with the fact that they developed an electronic portal whereby outside referring facilities may fax key patient information, and HIM incorporates it into the EHR and it is available for viewing within two hours.” Bryant went on to explain that this practice was “very positive and assists with the continuum of care.”


More Grace Award Winners

2013 Grace Award Winner – Truman Medical Centers

2014 Grace Award Winner – Children’s Medical Center of Dallas

2015 Grace Award Winner – Allina Health of Minneapolis

2016 Grace Award Winner – The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

2017 Grace Award Winner – SCL Health

2018 Grace Award Winner – Yale New Haven Health

2019 Grace Award Winner – Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) – Eastern Wisconsin Division

2020 Grace Award Winner – Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

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