Nevada Daily Mail
The city of Nevada and the Cerner Corporation of North Kansas City, Mo., have announced a partnership to design and implement a first-of-its-kind research and development project aimed at creating a "culture of health" in Nevada.
The Healthy Nevada project has been in the works for about a year; and now that all the players and a basic framework for the project are in place, officials at Cerner and the city think now is the time to announce the project.
Healthy Nevada started when city manager J.D. Kehrman was approached by representatives of the Missouri Department of Economic Development and USDA Rural Development about being on a preliminary list of cities in which the project might be undertaken. Kehrman said the representatives were vague; and nothing more was heard until a month or two later when he received a letter asking a series of "fairly unusual" questions.
Kehrman said the questions "revolved around what's this community's vision for health and wellness." They were "strange" questions, he said; and "We had no idea what was happening."
The next step was a site visit. Kehrman said city employees Mark Mitchell and Julie Lewis pulled several people into the mix and managed to put together "the best site visit I've ever been involved in, because they got all of the players to the table."
Cerner was impressed with that; and, according to Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff Jeff Townsend, they chose Nevada over a variety of other cities across the state because the city "has the key components we were looking for." Among those components were a strong medical community, employers willing to see a different future and a great parks system. The most impressive thing, Townsend said was, "The people and the leadership -- from elected officials to corporate leaders and community leaders -- all coming together around a common vision."
Members of the Healthy Nevada Leadership Board -- a group of area health professionals and community leaders involved in the coordination of the project so far -- envision the community as becoming a model of coordinated and integrated medical facilities and professionals that are one aspect of a broad program. The web of healthy resources also will include wellness programs like exercise programs, fitness initiatives, diet challenges and efforts designed to make living a healthy lifestyle the easiest choice.
Cerner executive Erik Gallimore said, "We want to work with you to do all of these things."
According to board member Dr. Tricia Bridgewater, the board and Cerner envision a "working lab of health" where it's easy to move through the city and in a way that's healthy. Kehrman said it could create a "network of connectivity" where citizens could travel from residential areas to downtown or from downtown to the schools on a bicycle or on foot, "safely, and in a way that is friendly to people with mobility issues."
Discussing the need
According to Kehrman, the population in Nevada and Vernon County ranks in the bottom one-third of the state for health issues like heart disease, juvenile diabetes, obesity and other health risks. Kehrman said that by implementing this program, he hopes to see that statistic change.
"What I want this project to beis a vehicle for us to improve -- move the meter, as they say -- on these factors; we make a permanent, sustainable change in things like obesity and childhood diabetes and all those types of factors that characterize a rural -- and to some degree, poverty-stricken -- population."
Townsend said many of Cerner's top executives grew up in rural communities and "see both an opportunity and a need in rural America to have a health system that works for those citizens, for those individuals." Townsend said Cerner spent more than "a year studying health care dynamics in rural populations in Missouri" and through their lengthy process "selected Nevada as our iconic community to go discover what might be possible."
According to Townsend, Cerner has 30 years' experience in the health and healthcare delivery business and is on the cutting edge of medical software technology. Townsend says Cerner will come into Nevada and canvass the community to find out how they can make the project a success. He said public engagement will enable them to discover what would make living healthier and obtaining health care easier. Then Cerner will invest in the ideas.
"If we think the idea will produce a result and is viable, then we will make that investment," Townsend said.
Kehrman said the city has no "money on the table" in the project.
Townsend said everyone has a healthcare story that they wish had transpired differently and that by being in the community during the first 60 to 90 days of the project "to hear the stories and the needs of the locals there, we can ideally come up with solutions to make that better."
If the project is successful, then Cerner would have a viable model of community health and wellness that they can use in conjunction with their software to improve the health and wellness of almost any population and to sell their products and services.
Nevada Regional Medical Center had already started working on changing over to a completely paperless system, according to CEO Judy Feuquay. The Cerner system will enable the hospital to implement that system in one year instead if three or four years. It will be much quicker because "Cerner does a whole lot of the work," Feuquay said. "They do the groundwork for us," which means the hospital gets "a product that is very close to being finished."
The software is complex but it lets all the hospital staff operate with the same information in front of them and minimizes the time spent entering data. Feuquay said the new system will allow her staff "more time to do the thing they went to medical school for -- spend more time with patients."
The new system also will enable NRMC to communicate with other health care providers in the community. Feuquay said that implementing this system should reduce duplication of services and reduce the cost of health care to the patient as well as improve the health and wellness of the community. Nevada is going to be the first community in the country to be in this pilot research and development project. "It's very cool, something that's never been done before," said Feuquay.
The next step in the process is getting the community involved. Much of the next step is "creating awareness" according to Feuquay -- awareness of the simple changes in their lives that can impact their health and wellness. Cerner is going to engage the civic groups in the community and try to get the schools involved. Then, ideas for creating a working, sustainable and repeatable model of community health should begin to unfold. According to Townsend, national statistics will be used to track success, but the programs and things that will be done in the community will be determined by the community.
Townsend said not all ideas will work for all people; so they plan to "find out why it didn't for some and let them be targeted with something else."
Townsend said, "The partnership is working when city leadership goes to Cerner with an idea, needing help to implement it. That's when sustainability kicks in and you've now taken over on your own; and you're off and running. I think we'll see that inside the first year," Townsend said, "it will be exciting when that happens."