MSHA named 2012 Most Wired Health System


System awarded $3.4 million in meaningful use funds from U.S. government

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) was recently recognized by the American Hospital Association (AHA) as a 2012 Most Wired health system. The honor acknowledges a high level of sophistication throughout the system in creating and using electronic medical records.

“We are pleased with this honor, and even more pleased with the positive results we’ve seen throughout the system,” said Paul Merrywell, MSHA’s chief information officer. “The better we are at making use of the latest information technology, the more our patients benefit from enhanced safety and convenience, and lower health care costs.”

In order to qualify as one of the AHA’s Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems, an organization must meet every item on a list of criteria in four key areas: infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety, and clinical integration. A total of 215 hospitals and health systems across the nation met the criteria this year. MSHA was one of three organizations in Tennessee to be recognized; the others were HCA Healthcare and Vanderbilt University Medical Center, both in Nashville. Details of the results can be found at

In evaluating hospitals for Most Wired status, the AHA used many of the same criteria used by the federal government in evaluating what’s known as “meaningful use” of electronic health records.

“Meaningful use involves not only choosing the right technology platform, but also successfully using those tools in a way that translates into benefit for the patient,” said Merrywell.

The federal government is offering incentive payments for hospitals and health systems that achieve meaningful use of electronic health records before 2015. To date, MSHA has received just over $3.4 million in meaningful use dollars, and health system officials expect to receive an additional $20.3 million over the next year.  The payments are expected to amount to a total of $54.3 million by the end of 2018.

Ten of MSHA’s 13 hospitals in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia have finished out their electronic medical record systems, hosting “go-live” events that roll out the new technology to all team members at the same time.  Between Sept. 2011 and May 2012, MSHA launched nine go-live events in nine months – a process that Merrywell said was remarkably smooth.

“It’s all about planning and execution,” said Merrywell. “This was a superhuman feat for a lot of individuals throughout the system, and it’s a testament to their dedication and professionalism. It’s called ‘adoption’ of technology for a reason. This is not something you fall into; it’s something you have to work at in order to make sure the electronic processes work better than your old paper processes did.”

About Mountain States Health Alliance

Mountain States Health Alliance, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a family of hospitals serving a 29-county, four-state region (Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina). MSHA offers a large tertiary hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, rehabilitation, a children’s hospital, a behavioral health hospital, home care and hospice services as well as a comprehensive medical management corporation. Its 13,500 team members, associated physicians and volunteers are committed to its mission of bringing loving care to health care. For more information, visit

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