Hospital Spotlight: Henry Ford Health System Uses Electronic Medical Records to Improve Care

Posted on June 07, 2018

Hospital SpotlightHenry Ford Health System is a comprehensive, nonprofit, healthcare organization in Metro Detroit that is comprised of five acute-care hospitals, more than 1,700 employed physicians and one of the nation’s largest group practices. Six years ago, Henry Ford began implementation of an electronic medical record (EMR) system within the organization that was fully functioning by mid-2014.

EMR systems are the digital version of paper records and charts and contain a patient’s medical history. Healthcare organizations can benefit greatly from EMR implementation, as it provides efficiency, transparency, financial benefits and personalized care and can enhance the safety and quality of patient care. On the flip side, they can also be costly and difficult to carry out.

Systemwide education, communication and engagement among staff and patients were huge contributing factors to Henry Ford’s rapid success, as were broad, integrated leadership support and an overall culture change.

“In order for this effort to be successful, we really needed everyone to start thinking differently,” said Michelle B. Schreiber, MD, senior vice president and chief quality officer, Henry Ford. 

Many committees were formed to seek input and perspective from patients, families, and caregivers on this initiative. Helios, known as Henry Ford’s electronic integrated information system, was created to help build and implement the Henry Ford EMR system. It comprised a 200-person team of operations, information technology (IT) and clinical staff members.

“We used the unique partnership within that team to drive change in quality and safety improvements across the organization,” said Schreiber. “We did it in a standardized way because we’re united with electronic records across the continuum of care.” 

Henry Ford used its EMR system to embed specific work flow processes into electronic format, making it visible for everyone. These work flow processes led to reduced infection rates, including catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs). Protocols for insertion and care of catheters and for physicians ordering tests and embedding catheters, were integrated in the EMR system.

As a result, quality and safety was significantly improved; the incidence of CAUTI was reduced by 60 percent. In addition, new embedded processes resulted in a 30 percent reduction in venous thromboembolism (VTE) and a 50 percent reduction in avoidable missed/refused prophylaxis.

Process improvement also resulted in millions in cost savings annually.

Henry Ford was selected as the 2017 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Enterprise Davies Award for leveraging its EMR to reduce VTE, developing a Revenue Cycle Playbook to increase productivity, generating financial gains, and giving emergency department physicians the tools to assist with discharge and care pathways. The HIMSS Enterprise Davies Award is presented to an organization that has successfully used health IT systems to significantly improve patient outcomes.

Moving forward, Henry Ford plans to continue using its EMR for multiple advancements in sepsis, ambulatory change and hospital-acquired infections.

This article was featured in the MHA Keystone Center Newsletter. To subscribe, please contact Ashley Sandborn, MHA Keystone Center communications specialist.


  • Hospital Spotlight: Henry Ford Health System Uses Electronic Medical Records to Improve Care

Tags: MHA Keystone Center, Patient Safety and Quality, Electronic Health Records, Henry Ford

Posted in: Patient Safety & Quality

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