Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Stephenville is one of 160 health care facilities nationwide (about 2 percent of U.S. hospitals) to be recognized for operating at the highest level of electronic health record (EHR) adoption: a paperless environment that helps improve efficiency, quality of care and patient safety.

Texas Health Stephenville earned the Stage 7 Award from Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Analytics, the nation's major health information technology association. Stage 7 is the highest level on the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model used to track progress at hospitals and health systems.

"This achievement signifies the commitment and dedication of our care team to using technology for improved patient safety, care coordination and ease of use for our caregivers," said Christopher Leu, hospital president.

The computer-based EHR collects, organizes, shares and manages clinical and administrative information, and is used by physicians on the medical staff, nurses and caregivers throughout the hospital and with other linked facilities.

HIMSS Analytics developed an adoption model in 2005 to evaluate the progress and impact of electronic medical record systems for hospitals in the HIMSS Analytics(tm) Database. Eight stages (0-7) measure a hospital's implementation and use of information technology applications. In Stage 7, the hospital is truly paperless and clinical information can be readily shared through electronic transactions with all entities (other hospitals, ambulatory sub-acute environments, employers, payers and patients).

The Stage 7 validation process includes a site visit by an executive from HIMSS Analytics and chief information officers to ensure an unbiased evaluation. All 14 wholly owned Texas Health Resources hospitals are linked through the EHR and have achieved at least Stage 6 on the adoption model. Reaching the sixth of seven stages means the hospitals have implemented barcode medication verification to help prevent medication errors. Only 13 percent of U.S. hospitals have reached Stages 6 or 7.

Of the 13 hospitals in Texas that have attained Stage 7 designation, nine are affiliated with Texas Health Resources.

"Our ultimate goal is to provide the best possible care for our patients and their families," said Barclay Berdan, FACHE, Texas Health's chief operating officer and senior executive vice president. "The electronic health record enables us to take advantage of technology to improve the quality of our care. The investment of time and money we've made to implement the EHR continues to pay off many times over in improving safety, efficiency and outcomes."