partners in technology
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Implementing Electronic Medical Records and Management Process Solutions
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    NHS is continually improving the quality of care to our consumers in every aspect of service, while improving efficiencies for staff. One of the many ways NHS has maintained our leadership in care and treatment is by surrounding our professionals with the best in information technology. And our long-term partner in that effort is Netsmart Technologies.

    Netsmart helps health and human services organizations like NHS transform care through the collaborative, coordinated management and exchange of clinical data across the care spectrum and through effective practice management that improves revenue cycle outcomes. Since 1999, NHS has partnered with Netsmart to deliver reliable client relationship management. Beginning in July 2012, NHS initiated a plan to rapidly deploy our electronic health record (EHR), Avatar, to nearly all clinical staff.
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    Getting such a sizable staff up and running on a new system would seem like a monumental challenge, but NHS staff were not intimidated. To start this transition, NHS made two significant changes to our EHR infrastructure by upgrading to the myAvatar platform and transitioning to Netsmart's Plexus Cloud Hosted Environment. "Some staff needed top-to-bottom training, but it was mostly process-related," NHS Executive Director of Business Operations Matt Zabolotny recalled. "myAvatar is so intuitive that it just doesn't take that much to get people up and running. We put some tools up on our intranet to give people additional help and support, but the whole implementation process went way smoother than we anticipated."

    The acceptance of technology throughout every level of NHS has allowed the EHR to become an engrained part of our company's culture. The myAvatar system has allowed all staff, regardless of service type, geography, or clinical setting to begin developing an electronic chart for the individuals in their care. In the past year, 4,157 new users have started documenting in myAvatar, 1,403 of these staff work in a community-based setting, away from an NHS facility. To accommodate these users, NHS partnered with Netsmart to develop a mobile application for Avatar which allows staff to chart anywhere they see a consumer.

    "Most of the comments we got from our team were not about the changeover," said Tom Sheeran, NHS Director of Services, Susquehanna County. "They were about how much better, easier and faster the new system was. We had zero issues with the transition from Avatar to myAvatar." Currently, there are 6,687 Avatar users and 1,482 MobileConnect users.
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    Being able to customize everything from the forms to the home screen made myAvatar much easier to absorb for NHS, and myAvatar is so easy to use and maneuver, even our users with less experience became comfortable with it very quickly.

    Customizable off-the-shelf modules like Practice Management (PM), Clinical Workstation (CWS), Appointment Scheduling and MobileConnect™ gave NHS a robust solution right from the start. And being able to add a module like MobileConnect was particularly valuable with so many clinicians and facilities. "It allows our staff to do documentation anywhere and sync to our system at any mobile hotspot," said Zabolotny.
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    NHS wasn't just forward-looking in our decision to employ an EHR and upgrade to the exceedingly-simple-to-use myAvatar. We also made the leap from an in-house licensed software model to taking advantage of Netsmart's Plexus Cloud™ hosting service for the Avatar solution at practically the same time.

    "Hosting was a way to get ongoing maintenance off our hands," said Zabolotny. "But there have been other benefits. The uptime has been extraordinary. There have been virtually no hiccups, and the added security and redundancy give us a lot more peace of mind – and that's hard to achieve with so many users."
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    With our diverse revenue base and the variety of state and payer requirements we need to meet, having all of our outpatient clinics create progress notes exactly the same way is a huge clinical and operational benefit. Our data is more consistent and reliable. "One goal with Avatar and myAvatar was to have better control over the quality of our documentation," Zabolotny said. "Having the exact same standards and documentation across the organization was imperative, because quality is what drives us."

    "The immediate accessibility of dependable data lets us focus on quality care," said Sheeran. "For clinicians, compliance has historically been a bad word," he added. "It's meant something's wrong. But from our perspective, compliance drives good care. It's something we embrace, and myAvatar helps us continue to meet that standard." And at NHS, it's a high standard.
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    In the upcoming year, NHS will continue to expand the Avatar integration throughout other parts of the company. Avatar will be used to capture reports on all incidents throughout NHS and record releases of information that have traditionally been on paper. NHS also plans to leverage the Avatar data to drive clinical quality and organizational decision-making.

    "Avatar gave us the chance to gather and get immediate access to consistent medical data across the organization,"
    said Sheeran. "myAvatar took us to a whole other level in terms of customization. Managing that data is so much easier now."