The Electronic Medical Record:
Imagine a patient’s medical history, primary doctor’s notes, lab test results, and medications all accessible in seconds on the doctor’s computer screen.
When the doctor is about to write a prescription for a patient’s newly diagnosed condition, he can look at the patient’s record to be sure this drug works safely with other meds she’s taking and to see if it’s covered by her insurance. Then, with a push of a button, the doctor sends the typed script to the pharmacy.
Moreover, instead of relying on memory, the system generates email reminders of when patients are due for tests, checkups or shots. This ensures that no patients get lost in the shuffle.
The entire medical industry is being challenged to meet health technology standards set in place by the 2009 Stimulus Package. Physicians are being strongly incentivized to update their health information technology for the sake of:
- Reducing healthcare costs by digitalizing data
- Improving communication between healthcare facilities and pharmacies
- Reducing the number of medical errors and injuries caused by handwritten notes
- Minimizing the risk associated with losing important documents in a natural disaster
- Providing decision support with databases such as drug –to-drug and drug-to-allergy interactions
To meet these challenges effectively, healthcare providers must be more accurate, diligent and efficient in the quality of their patient care.
Electronic Medical Records are the solution.In fact, there are major government incentives for physicians to adopt EMR technology – up to $65,000 in Medicare and $44,000 in Medicaid reimbursements
Preparing for the EMR – Transformation Technology:
** Specific to Charts**
Imagine how a practice might become more efficient if multiple people could access patient charts, where the history, lab, scanned images and radiology information is just a few clicks away, and doctors could access the chart from home. This would eliminate the need for staff to chase down paper files required for billing, nursing, or administration within the office.
St. Louis Oncology is a 2 Physician Oncology/ Hematology practice in St. Louis, Missouri that is affiliated with St. Anthony’s Medical Center
In 2004 Dr. William Morris, the principle doctor at St. Louis Oncology, wanted to recover the space used by the paper charts and allow fast access by multiple departments within the practice. Dr. Morris approached the provider of his Simplicity Practice Management System, Microsystems Technology, who in turn referred him to Advanced Records Management, the local Aquarius Imaging VAR.Dr Morris had envisioned a system that was simple to use and resembled his current paper charts, complete with the colored “tabs” that identified the chart section. “I don’t want to have to learn new software in order to view my files. I just want to click on the patient, and then the section of the chart and have it there to view, just like the paper file,” he said. “And I want to continue to use paper when interacting with the patient. I want to go chart-less, not necessarily paperless.”
Aquarius worked with Dr. Morris and his staff and delivered what is now known as the “TouchChart”. Darlene Boylan R.N., the Practice Manager, says “It is set up just like our paper charts were. This made learning to retrieve the charts simple for all our doctors and staff. “We create a “mini-chart” just prior to an appointment consisting of a patient notes form, a superbill, and plan form. We also include any labs or documents that may have just been received. This process allows the doctor to see patients in the style they always have. If they need patient past history, lab, or radiology information, it is only a few clicks away with TouchChart. The doctors also like that they can access the patient charts from home.
St Louis Oncology installed PC’s for each exam room for all nurses and support staff. Anyone can view any file instantly from their workstation. They no longer have to chase down the paper file within the office if they need information in billing, nursing, or administration. Darlene said “I periodically review files to be sure we are providing the best level of service we can… before I had to go get the paper charts, now I can sit at my desk and review any chart I want anytime I want in just seconds.” “And I’m happy to say downtime has not been a problem. I think the longest we have ever been down was 30 min. I have spent more time than that looking for misplaced charts in paper form!”