Over the years, many advances have been made in information technology. Today, people can access information at their fingertips. Information technology in health care has been following close behind. In the last decade, numerous technology tools have become available to improve health for you, your family and the community.
Information technology in health care is called EHR, an electronic health record. The EHR provides a computerized version of the paper chart you have seen your doctor or nurse with in the past, and includes a collection of information about you, the patient. It is a record in the digital format that can be shared across different settings such as a hospital, clinic and pharmacy if required for your care. EHRs include a variety of data which include demographics, medical history, medication and allergies, immunizations, lab tests results, radiology images, vital signs, billing information, and more.
Boone County Hospital (BCH) is in the process of transitioning to an electronic health record. According to Howard Eikenberry, BCH Assistant Administrator of Information Technology/Quality Management, it’s been a huge endeavor that has taken a lot of time and hard work for employees. This change will affect almost every hospital department, as well as the affiliated clinics, in one way or another when Phase I of the new EHR goes live on January 15, 2013.
BCH spent two years looking at different electronic record systems. Staff including doctors was involved in the process. In all, staff looked at five different systems finally deciding on a system they felt best met their needs and met their budget. “Our goal is to provide the hospital a computer system that will provide meaningful use for patients, meaning it will provide patient care and safety,” says Howard.
Congress requires all hospitals to purchase or upgrade a system by the fall of 2015. If a system is purchased and all requirements are met, the government can reimburse the hospital 80% of the cost of the HER implementation. BCH chose to purchase a system. “Meditech had the best integration within our price range for a hospital of our size. They offer a complete hospital and clinic system that has worked together for a long time,” says Howard. In addition, Meditech offers a home care system called Maestro. That system was implemented in BCH’s Home Care Services in October 2012.
The EHR at BCH will include a record that is up-to-date, complete, accurate, and with the click of a few buttons can be in the hands of the doctor when the record is needed. “Our goal is to improve the quality of care for our patients,” says Howard. “Because the EHR allows for the exchange of health information electronically, it allows health care providers to offer higher quality and safer care for their patients.”
Benefits of the electronic health record for the hospital and clinics are: enhanced privacy and security of patient information, enhanced clinical alerts, reminders and medical information, safer and more reliable prescribing, quick access to patient records, legible and easily read reports for coding and billing, and a connection with registration, labs, and any other area with an EHR.
Besides patient safety, what does the new EHR mean for you, the patient? There will be less paperwork that means fewer and shorter forms for you to complete. Your information will get into the hands of the people who need it quickly. All of your providers, as you permit them, will be able to obtain your information through the EHR allowing them to have accurate and the most up-to-date information about your care. And, the EHR allows for different specialist doctors to coordinate your care with your primary care doctor and protect your safety so there is no duplication of services such as unnecessary tests and procedures, and prescribed drugs.
By the fall of 2013, BCH plans to implement phase II of the EHR which will offer a patient portal allowing patients to log in, schedule appointments, check on prescriptions and send a message to their doctor. In the meantime, it is full speed ahead to the implementation of phase I in January. If you have an appointment on January 15th or in the weeks following, please allow some extra time and come to your appointment 15 minutes early. BCH greatly appreciates your patience as the hospital takes steps forward with this new technology.