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Various federal and state mandates are requiring health care providers to have interoperable electronic health record (EHR) systems and to use e-prescribing. Stratis Health is helping providers meet these mandates—and most importantly, helping providers select and use HIT to improve the quality of care delivered and increase patient safety.

In 2007, the Minnesota Legislature mandated that all Minnesota health care providers must have an interoperable electronic health records (EHR) system in place within their clinical practice setting by January 1, 2015.

Health Information Technology Toolkit for Critical Access and Small Hospitals

The Health Information Technology Toolkit for Critical Access and Small Hospitals can be used for implementing a comprehensive HIT or EHR system, for acquiring individual applications, or for overhauling existing systems. While an overall organizational strategy is strongly recommended and supported through use of all the tools in the toolkit, each organization should construct its own timeline based on the applications, technology, and operational activities being undertaken.

For critical access and small hospitals a carefully constructed foundation and the right tools to plan and implement HIT can mean the difference between systems that are not well-used or even add administrative burden, and those that achieve value. The purpose of this toolkit for is to supply tools, tested in this environment, that will help you plan and make the right choices, as well as to avoid having to re-invent the wheel.

Much like a carpenter's toolbox, the HIT Toolkit supplies a variety of tools for use at different points in your HIT adoption. Each tool includes:

  • Brief statement of purpose - so you will know when to use the tool and what it should help you accomplish.
  • Instructions for use of the tool - so you will be guided in effective use of the tool.
  • Tool structure - depending on the tool itself, you may find you can customize the tool to help you perform a task or use it as a model to modify for your own needs.

The Health Information Technology Toolkit for Critical Access and Small Hospitals consists of seven stages categorized into three main sections. Descriptions of the individual tools are available on the Web pages for each section.

Section 1. Adopt: Assess - Plan - Select
Section 2. Utilize: Implement - Effective Use
Section 3. Exchange: Readiness - Interoperate

Stratis Health developed the toolkit, tested in the critical access hospital environment, using our extensive experience in helping providers adopt HIT, working with CAH and small hospitals on quality improvement and patient safety, and developing toolkits. An earlier version of this toolkit was distributed nationwide on CD-ROM through the Rural Hospital Flexibility (Flex) Program.

Medication Bar Coding

Stratis Health worked with hospitals across the state to integrate patient safety-related technology—such as computer bar codes on patient wrists and computerized physician orders—into their systems of care to reduce human errors and avoid dangerous medical mistakes.

For example, hospitals can reduce medication administration errors by effectively using health information technology (HIT) for bar coding, improving patient safety. Bar coding verifies that the “five rights” are confirmed: the right patient, right medication, right dose, right time, and right route of administration. In 2004 (latest year data available), only two to six percent of hospitals were using bar coding.

Case study highlight: eMaR = “safety net”

One Minnesota critical access hospital implemented the use of bedside medicine verification through an electronic medication administration record (eMAR).

  • Significant impact on the hospital’s patient safety measures
  • Flagged and prevented 64 potential medication errors in January 2008, 1.7% of orders
  • Patient’s account number did not match the medication The hospital served as a mentor to other hospitals, sharing lessons learned and successes


Stratis Health has extensive experience in working with health care facilities to help them adopt and utilize EHR systems and to prepare them for exchanging information.

For more information or support using the toolkit, contact:
Stratis Health - Health Information Technology Services