Mary Beth Kester, Manager of IT at Essentia Health – Sandstone Health Center, has seen her organization through quite a transformation over the years. From paper charts to a clunky EHR system to a now paperless facility with MatrixCare, Kester now spends her time doing her “real” job of overseeing IT Operations and Radiology Manager at Sandstone instead of dealing with software issues and troubleshooting. MatrixCare, the industry leading EHR across the continuum of care, was implemented in the Sandstone facility in the spring of 2011 and they’ve been going full force since.

“Over time and with some good planning, Sandstone was able to go paperless and we are now working toward this goal in our other six facilities,” stated Kester. “We see it as the greatest benefit of using MatrixCare. If anything is done on paper, such as physicians doing case reviews, it is immediately scanned into MatrixCare and shredded. With all the information in one place and the system being so intuitive and easy to use, there is little support that is needed and this is true across all disciplines.”

Another area the organization has seen vast improvement is in documentation. With much of today’s reimbursement being based on outcomes versus fee for service, it’s becoming more and more important to have a system that guides and enforces accurate documentation. Angie Landis, Sandstone’s Director of Nursing, stated, “Every aspect of my job has improved with MatrixCare, but a big improvement is the accuracy in documentation and how we can now see what is driving quality measures and how our documentation is affecting acuity levels. It is instrumental as we are filling out the MDS to have notifications and guides within the system as a resource to help with accurate coding or prompt us if an intervention is needed. Being able to see how answers will affect Quality Measures and track scores to make sure we are hitting our goals for survey and 5 star ratings is invaluable.” Kester added, “It is taking pressure off the individual and spreads it to the organization as a whole which allows us to define workflows and roll those out with the other facilities.”

Increased efficiencies on the clinical side can also be seen from the use of MatrixCare’s Order and eMAR modules. “We were able to get the eMAR module up and running literally overnight. One day we had charts and the next day everything was in MatrixCare,” stated Landis. “Online order entry has greatly improved our medication errors. We are down 20% to almost zero med errors. And the time it takes to do a med pass has been cut in half. There are fewer clicks in MatrixCare and the system just tells you where to go and what to do next. The reporting capability, such as the end of shift report, also helps us stay on top of things.”

MatrixCare has also improved the survey process for Essentia. As someone who oversees the process as part of her IT role, Kester says there was a complete turnaround in the process. “In our old system we literally had to show them how to navigate the systems and print things off for them which took time and other jobs fell to the wayside,” Kester stated. “With MatrixCare, each site has its own state user profile and we simply activate the profile and the surveyor has access to all they need in one place whereas before they would be clicking around in all different areas of the system. There is no more hand holding and the stress level is minimal.”

And because MatrixCare is a fully integrated system, with all patient data in one place, it has allowed Essentia to move to one centralized business office. Prior to MatrixCare, each facility had their own billing office and staff used a myriad of systems which were usually hospital based. “It was always a challenge getting information into MatrixCare from the different systems and the big concern was how to manage all the different facilities,” stated Kathy Olson, Revenue Cycle Manager. “With MatrixCare, the corporate/facility build and inherent hierarchy is so valuable as it allows us to share information between the facilities. And with one centralized office, our leadership team now has the tools to see corporate reports and analysis of the organization as a whole.”

“Now that we are paperless, we no longer have to depend on a physical chart or go find the chart to obtain information,” said Olson. “Billers have access to all pertinent information like case mix letters, supporting insurance documentation etc. within MatrixCare so they can be anywhere, anytime and still have access. Not to mention there is a beautiful audit trail that is very useful to find out why something was off and what really happened.”

One of the major process improvements Olson and the billing team have experienced with MatrixCare is during Month End Close. “The system is so intuitive and the reporting capabilities allow us to stay on top of things to ensure Month End Close goes smoothly,” stated Olson. “We are able to see where we are during the month so we can proactively identify any issues with specific payers. We have a goal of closing on the 3rd business day of following month whereas before MatrixCare it was at least 10 days out.”

With all the improvements to their organization’s processes, Essentia looks forward to evolving as MatrixCare continues to roll out new innovations. “We love working with the people at MatrixCare,” said Kester. “We are always interested in hearing what is coming up in future releases and how we can use MatrixCare to provide better care for our residents.”


  • Cumbersome navigation of existing system
  • Incomplete, inefficient documentation
  • Tedious survey process
  • Disparate billing systems across the organization


MatrixCare – EHR technology that supports bundled payment initiative focused on fee for value (outcomes) in addition to fee for service reimbursement that’s in place today.


  • Completely paperless facility
  • Improved documentation leading to improved quality of care
  • Standardized and efficient survey process
  • One centralized billing system