From Meaningful Use to Meaningful Outcomes at Bon Secours Health System – now live

In my never-ending interest in helping every patient in every system achieve optimal health through involvement, transparency, and health information technology, I have been working with Bon Secours Health System, Inc., (@bonsecoursRVA – Bon Secours Richmond) for the past year.

After speaking with Bon Secours Chief Medical Information Officer, John Kontor, MD (@johnkontor), I am writing this post to recount my experience with this system and introduce the innovation in thinking around health information technology being born at Bon Secours, from meaningful use to meaningful outcomes, which comes from health information technology plus clinical transformation.

So what have I been doing?

The first thing I have been doing is working with the Bon Secours ConnectCare team to launch their patient portal, (and to be clear, they did the launching, I only assisted). The portal allows patients to e-mail doctors, get lab test results, act on behalf of family members – all the things an organization interested in involving patients and families does when they implement and electronic health record.

I have also been a “shadowing physician” in ambulatory offices and inpatient settings where ConnectCare has been rolled out. People who know me know how much I love to shadow (or as I say, “watch people provide excellent health care”).

These experiences have been really important, to respect the work that happens at the level of the patient, the most important place. And even in the most stressful of times, the physicians, nurses, and patients have been open to sharing what they do, which actually confirms what I’ve learned from just about every patient, nurse, physician – they want to teach, all we have to do is ask.

Meaningful outcomes

I think the act of involving patients and families in the use of health information technology is a marker for a greater purpose, which is to leverage the technology (or as John says, “to use it in a transformational way” ) to improve health, or even more ideally, help people achieve their life goals through optimal health. John says this is the meaningful outcome part for patients, family, community. I agree.

Not unique – that’s a good thing

I realize that much of what I have seen and worked on here is not unique to Bon Secours, which is a good thing – I used to say at Group Health that I hoped that the patient portal wouldn’t be #1 in the US in size, I hoped it would be #100, because that would mean that the idea was catching on. And, apparently it is!

Even though this work is not unique, it’s still not the norm in health care, so it’s worth writing about, because it shows that in financing environments where the overwhelming majority of Americans receive their care (fee for service), innovation for patients and communities can happen. If you’re reading this and from an organization that is similarly innovating, by all means, post in the comments, we don’t want these systems to be the minority any more.

Health care is better when organizations go from:

“We can’t do this because we aren’t X, we don’t have Y,”


We didn’t know we could do it until we did it.”

Here’s another one that’s doing it. Keep up the great work, Bon Secours.


Ted Eytan, MD