Barnesville Hospital embarks on 21st Century Electronic Health Record

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Barnesville Hospital is undertaking a major transformation in how staff provides care when it rolls out a new electronic health record (EHR) in January 2013. Factors, such as healthcare reform, decreasing reimbursements, and increased regulatory complexity, are some of the challenges that Barnesville Hospital faces in navigating today’s rapidly changing healthcare environment. The new EHR, McKesson Paragon®, will provide the foundation to meet these challenges. Built on a Microsoft Windows-based platform, Paragon® is a fully integrated, clinical and financial information system, designed to meet the needs of all hospitals, regardless of size.

“What we are doing right now at Barnesville Hospital will change the way we deliver health care to the community forever. Technology is changing the way we deliver that care,” states David Phillips, CEO of Barnesville Hospital. “The implementation of the electronic health record system will allow a coordination of care among all areas of the healthcare community. While it is government mandate, it will ultimately lead to better communication of patient information, enhanced access to health information and a more informed healthcare consumer in the coming years.”

With passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the federal government allocated $27 billion to encourage the health care industry to adopt information technology in three stages through 2015. To qualify for funds, hospitals and physicians practices must meet standards related to improving quality, safety, efficiency and reducing health disparities; engaging patients and families in their care; improving care coordination; improving population and public health; and maintaining privacy and security.

Over the last 11 months, more than 50 Barnesville Hospital staff members have dedicated time to the EHR project, designing a system which accurately and completely documents patient care, while meeting the needs of hospital staff. According to Tiffany Gramby, RHIA, Barnesville Hospital’s Project Manager, “It’s no surprise to me that the staff at Barnesville Hospital stepped up to the challenge and worked tirelessly as a team to create a system that will enhance the delivery of patient care and give us the tools we need to work more efficiently. We have a fantastic team here at Barnesville. A team that is always willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done and to do it with excellence.” Over 100 additional computers and work stations are being rolled out throughout the hospital. The new EHR will allow staff access to patient information at any time, from anywhere. Physicians will be able to access the system through a secure web portal.

While patients can still expect the same personalized, quality care that Barnesville Hospital is recognized for providing, patients need to expect some longer wait times as staff transition from paper to largely electronic records. Not only are caregivers becoming accustomed to a new way of documenting provision of patient care, they are learning new work flows.

An electronic health record is more than just a computerized version of a paper chart. Because it will serve as an electronic storage “hub” for all a patient’s medical records, the EHR will take staff longer to input the initial information. There are a variety of different types and sources of information that makes up a medical record – medical history, including diagnoses, medications, and allergies; immunization history; lab results; and medical images coming from current and past doctors, emergency facilities, and clinics. Ultimately, through the advancement of health information exchange capabilities, the information can move with a patient – to the specialist, the hospital, the nursing home, the next state, or even across the country.

EHR Fast Facts:

Doctors and nurses will have instant computer access to patient information no matter the caregiver’s location, eliminating reliance on paper records and saving precious time.

The EHR will be secure, meaning only medical personnel involved in treatment can access the information.

The EHR will automatically cross-check medications against other prescribed drugs, diagnoses, and lab results, and suggest possible changes in treatment.

The EHR will offer enormous savings in the use and cost of paper.

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