JMH Emergency Department physicians getting innovative to help patients


Dr. Brian Dawson and Dr. Kelly Carter,
emergency room physicians at
Johnston Memorial Hospital, have earned recognition
for their two new, computer-based tools to
help patients and ER doctors. They're shown here
at Mountain States Health Alliance's
annual Quality Awards, where they earned
honors for both their Align and Radiation
Reconciliation programs.

ABINGDON, Va. – Is there a better way to do this?

That’s what two Johnston Memorial Hospital (JMH) physicians wondered as they went about their work in the JMH Emergency Department. So Dr. Brian Dawson and Dr. Kelly Carter took action and got innovative.

They came up with two new computer-based tools that directly help doctors and patients. One is called Radiation Reconciliation and the other is Align. Both have gotten results and recognition.

“We thought, ‘Can we design a better system that allows people to do it safer, faster and less expensively?’ ” Dawson said. “Both these tools are really responses to how can we make it easier to do it better than we do it today.”

In June, Radiation Reconciliation won the Virginia Healthcare Innovators Award for Healthcare Information Technology. Dawson went to Richmond to receive the honor; meanwhile, Carter was in San Antonio at the Premier Healthcare Alliance’s Breakthroughs 2013 Conference and Exhibition, presenting on Align to health care providers from around the country.

Both programs won high honors at the Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) annual Quality Awards, as well.

“These physicians have taken it upon themselves to drive this change,” said John Jeter, JMH’s assistant administrator and chief financial officer. “They have a remarkable vision for what this thing can be for our patients.”

So what do these computer-based tools do? Basically they take data that’s already available in our electronic medical records, organize it and then present key information to ER doctors in a way they can easily and instantly use it while dealing with the patient.

Carter and Dawson recruited help with the actual computer programming work for the two projects from JMH’s Tony Stiltner, medical staff systems coordinator, and Brian’s brother, Nathan. Through a lot of experimentation and analysis they came up with systems that worked. The two doctors created their own company, Brily Innovations (based on parts of both their first names), so they have intellectual ownership of their property. Their website is

Here’s how they describe the two ER tools.


This program looks at the proverbial “frequent flyers” in the ER– the small percentage of patients who are responsible for a large percentage of the overall ER visits – and analyzes data about their cases. Then it presents the key data all on one page for the physician.

As a result, doctors can make faster, more well-informed decisions, there are fewer repeated tests and patient length of stay is 30 to 40 percent shorter, so hospital costs as well as charges to the patient are lower. The frequency of visits among the targeted patients dropped steadily, as well, to 1.5 times fewer per month, Carter said.

 “I’m a believer in it,” said Jeter, who calls it “a cutting-edge program.”

Radiation Reconciliation

This program is a safety measure that quickly counts radiology studies and estimates radiation exposure, and also raises awareness of radiation exposure for patients and the medical community.

“This information in already in there, but it’s not pushed to us as physicians,” Dawson said. “It takes a little effort to find it. This pushes the data to us and makes it easier to make good decisions on whether or not to do a scan.”

The program can stand alone or be integrated into Align. When integrated into Align, it searches every patient’s medical history and reports an alert if their estimated radiation exposure is above a set threshold. With the click of a button, it generates a report based on the number and type of imaging studies on record at that facility.

Radiation Reconciliation is available for all patients in the ED at JMH, while Align has more than 100 patients in its pilot program.

“These programs are 100-percent physician-driven,” Jeter said. “That gives them a lot of credibility and it shows just what kind of people these doctors are –compassionate physicians trying to make life better for their patients.”


Back to News Listing