Electronic medical records offers more speed and accuracy in treatment - A revolution in records at MDI Hospital Health Centers
MDI Hospital Health Centers' patients may not realize it, but there's a revolution taking place in their treatment.
Since September 19, 2011, the staff at the Cadillac Family Practice and Community Health Center sites have been keeping track of patient information using an "electronic medical record" system, a computerized database that will eventually replace the paper records and charts that have traditionally lined walls of medical offices.
The computerized system, from eClinicalWorks and known at hospital and physician practices alike as EMR for short, promises big benefits for patients. No longer will charts and files have to be retrieved and carried from room to room. Patient information is now quickly accessible from computers in every exam room and nursing station. Doctors are even able to check records from their homes.
This instant access to information will reduce delays and speed prescription refills. More significantly, it will improve safety by improving accuracy and eliminating problems with illegible handwriting, since information is entered by keyboard. It will even alert the medical staff to potential medication allergies.
All of the MDI Hospital Practices are now prescribing electronically (e-prescribing).
In April, the system will have been extended to chart at all of the MDI Hospital Health Centers.
Using computers to streamline and improve record-keeping may sound easy, but implementing such a system in a hectic medical practice creates many problems. Information about the all of the patients has to be moved into the system, and that meant staff members have the arduous task of "pre-loading" data from files and charts before the system goes on-line.
The system requires new ways of managing a practice's workflow —the ways in which patient information is retrieved, entered and managed. Of course, before any information is transferred or put into the system, everyone has to learn how to use the EMR. Formal training was developed by the Health Centers’ implementation specialist, Bryan Stevens. Stevens and Lindsay Ouellette, Health Centers Systems Support Coordinator, created a training program and schedule for all Health Centers staff as well as pertinent Hospital staff.
For the physicians, the new system meant a change in work style. Where they once jotted notes on paper and dictated comments, EMR allows them to enter information about patients directly into the computer by clicking through a "template" of information fields.
Despite the change in methods, most patients have done very well with the new system. Some have asked about the confidentiality of their medical information and whether others might somehow be able to gain access to it via computer. Be assured, the electronic database is safe. It is protected by log-ins and passwords and is viewable only by authorized personnel.
The system provides tremendous advantages that will improve patient care. The tracking of information is important in the Health Centers for quality, consistency, and accuracy.