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A major information technology initiative lies ahead at Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC).

Most of 2010 will be spent preparing for the conversion to the Epic system of electronic medical records.

The conversion itself is targeted for the end of the first quarter of 2011, said Michael Maiberger, president and chief executive officer of UVMC.  The multi-million dollar project will position UVMC with one of the leading health care information management systems in the nation, Maiberger said.

Epic also is used by the other hospitals of Premier Health Partners (PHP) as well as other health care organizations in the region.

“Once we are fully on the Epic platform we will, along with the rest of our Premier Health Partners, be among the most IT-integrated health systems in the nation,” Maiberger said.

Before that occurs, hundreds of UVMC employees and medical staff in coming months will under go training on the system.

For patients, the Epic system will mean immediate access by health providers to information across the PHP hospitals.

It also can improve the quality of care by reducing potential errors in medication and treatment, Maiberger said.

For example, the electronic system will contain checks and balances that will raise red flags if a prescribed dosage of medication does not meet the normal amount for the condition being treated. Orders and other documentation will be entered electronically into a computer, reducing the potential for human error in recording and interpreting handwritten data. Nurses will enter nursing notes, and physicians will place orders by computer.

UVMC’s association with Premier Health Partners makes the Epic system’s use in a community hospital possible.

“This is one of the huge advantages of being part of a larger system such as PHP. We can have access to and afford this type of system, which we would not be able to do as an independent system of our size,” Maiberger said.

Another major project this year at UVMC will be replacement of the linear accelerator used for radiation therapy at the Cancer Care Center.

Efforts to recruit new medical staff members into the community also will continue. “We anticipate success from recruiting in a number of different specialty areas in 2010,” Maiberger said .Over the past year, successes were achieved in recruiting staff members in obstetrics and family practice.

As for the bigger picture of health care, 2010 “promises to be a pivotal year” for changes in the industry, Maiberger said.  “We likely will see some sort of health care reform. Nobody really knows for sure yet what that is going to look like.”

At UVMC, 2010 will be every bit as challenging as 2009 in large part because of the industry unknowns and the lingering effects of the economic downturn, Maiberger said.

An increase in the amount of uncompensated care being provided by UVMC and other hospitals in the region and beyond is expected to continue. Last year, ¬¬more than $32 million in charity/uncompensated care was provided in our communities by UVMC – an unprecedented increase of $8 million over the previous year.  At the same time, the system is seeing less demand for health care services, particularly as individuals negatively impacted by the economy opt to delay or forego care.

“We will need to continue to look for ways to further reduce our costs, maximize efficiencies and, at the same time, maintain or improve where we can the high quality of service that we provide,” Maiberger said.

“We are very proud of how well the UVMC family works together in these difficult times, as was evidenced in 2009 when we had to make some very difficult changes,” he said.  “We’re confident that we’re as well positioned as any community health care organization can be to face the challenges of the future.”

With approximately 1,700 employees, UVMC is Miami County’s single largest employer, representing millions of dollars in jobs, taxes and other economic benefits for the local communities. 

UVMC last year participated in a regional economic impact report published by the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association in conjunction with the University of Cincinnati Economics Center for Education and Research.  The report, based on the previous year’s data, was designed to demonstrate the impact that hospitals have on the area’s economy and to reflect the importance of the role of health care in the region.

According to the report, the total annual economic impact of Upper Valley Medical Center on Miami County in 2008 was $254.4 million.  In addition to contributing to the local economy tangibly through its operations and capital expenditures, UVMC contributes to the local government revenues through payroll taxes and local property tax payments and payments made in lieu of taxes, the report noted.

“While UVMC’s priority continues to be delivering the highest possible quality of health care services to our community, we’re pleased to be able to demonstrate the quantifiable economic impact our health system continues to have on the economy of Miami County,” Maiberger said.