Hospital Launches Electronic Medical Record
Posted on Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Super Users of Epic System: Connie Graham (center) introduces registered nurses Kim Collins (l) and Katherine Miller to the Epic electronic health record system during training at Mercy Health/Love County.
Paperless Recordkeeping: Linda Dixon, health information manager, shows how the paper record of a typical hospital stay has been reduced from hundreds of pages (right) to seven. Those seven are patient signature pages. They are scanned to become part of a fully electronic record, and then shredded.
Mercy Health/Love County Hospital introduced Epic, an electronic health record system, on September 10. The benefits for hospital patients and the coworkers who take care of them already are showing up.
Gone are doctors’ orders written with pen on paper, along with the clipboards, folders, and file rooms required to contain and store them.
With Epic, doctors, nurses, and clinical coworkers in every department of the hospital and emergency room are using laptop computers to compile an electronic record.
The information is password protected, and departments have access only to the information related to their area of responsibility.
A key benefit to patients is that Epic is also used by Mercy Memorial in Ardmore, Mercy Hospital in Oklahoma City, and numerous other Sisters of Mercy facilities in Oklahoma and elsewhere.
That means, according to Linda Dixon, health information manager, that patients who transfer between Mercy hospitals will find their records up-to-the-minute when they arrive.
“They don’t have to carry their charts and x-rays with them anymore or worry about getting them to the right person,” Dixon said.
Connie Graham, business office supervisor, coordinated the Epic installation.
“We started training in July. We set up a learning lab with a roomful of computers. It was open 24 hours a day. Coworkers practiced how to make entries and call up information on an electronic chart. On the go-live date, personnel from other Mercy locations came to Marietta to help us.”
Graham is an 18-year coworker. Her responsibilities in the hospital include collections, accounting, patient registration, and audit preparation. She had launched Epic in the business office in 2010.
Nurses say they are impressed with the system.
“There’s no going back for me!” said Katherine Miller, R.N., as she monitored patient care from a computer at the nurses’ station.
“Once the RN in charge acknowledges the doctors’ orders for a patient, we can track everything that is being accomplished for that patient. Before, when a lab test was ordered, we had to write on a piece of paper and run it down to the lab. Now at the computer screen, we can see the lab order and the test results. Everyone enters information as they go and it is instantly displayed.”
Communication is quicker throughout the hospital, and information that formerly was conveyed by telephone, note, or hallway conversation now makes it to the patient record because everyone is communicating at the keyboard.
Doctors have online access to the complete clinical record for a patient from any computer at office or home. They can enter orders at any time.
In the emergency room, Kim Collins, R.N., has discovered that having an electronic record is “really handy” if someone is too ill or injured to talk. “If they’ve been here or at any Mercy hospital before, we can call up their drug allergies.”
Also, there are no longer doubts about a coworker’s handwriting or searches for misplaced charts, Collins said.
Miller and Collins are “super users,” a designation for coworkers who are comfortable enough with the Epic system to teach others.
“We have two super users per shift. Most of our nurses have become super users. I’m very proud of them,” said Marie Ross, R.N., Director of Nursing.