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February 16, 2011

Medical records set to go digital

Strong Memorial Hospital will roll out new eRecord system March 5

After more than a year of preparation and testing, the Medical Center will implement a new electronic records system starting March 5 at Strong Memorial Hospital. The eRecord system will roll out at Highland Hospital June 11. In 2012, it will expand to all of the Medical Center’s outpatient clinics.

Medical Center leaders have called the system a cornerstone of the Strategic Plan and its top priority—improved patient safety and quality care.

“It’s not just about replacing a paper chart with an electronic chart, but it’s about the fundamental workflows by which we care for our patients,” says Medical Center CEO Bradford Berk. “These new workflows will actually transform the way we take care of our patients and improve quality and safety.”

The $78 million project aims to bring the Medical Center’s technology infrastructure on par with that of the nation’s top academic medical centers—ultimately better connecting caregivers and promoting safer, more efficient patient-centered care.

A comprehensive view of all records pertaining to a patient will be at the fingertips of all Medical Center caregivers in eRecord. The initial rollout of the system will be to inpatient units, the Emergency Department, pharmacy, and outpatient oncology. Areas such as cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, transplant, peri-operative services, anesthesia, and radiology will likely be converted to eRecord in the next three to five years. The Medical Center plans to expand the system to all ambulatory clinics by summer 2012.

Integrating medical information of patients into a single system streamlines clinical care, eliminating duplicate testing and the need to transfer paper records from one caregiver to another. In addition, the new system supplies evidence-based clinical decision-making support, and provides a more robust means for capturing data for translational research, tracking core measures, and conducting operations analyses and other required reports.

Now, for example, clinicians may enter medication orders electronically and a paper order is keyed again by the pharmacist. Then, when the order and medication reaches the floor the nurse completes a paper “medication administration record.” Each of these manual steps introduces potential for error.

eRecord helps to eliminate medication errors by using a barcode scanner to verify information on the patient wristband, medication and Smart Pump, and then cross-reference those with the computerized order-entry system. The process ensures that the right patient receives the right dose of the right medicine at the right time, via the right route (orally, intravenously, etc.). Any discrepancies would flag an alert, prompting clinicians to review the order and potentially avoid an adverse event.

The project includes “middleware” technology, which allows the new record system to “talk” with the hospital’s existing information systems. It also includes a master patient index tool, which “matches” Strong and Highland medical record numbers for a consolidated view of a patient’s record.  

In addition, eRecord will be compatible with Rochester’s RHIO (Regional Health Information Organization) initiative to digitize medical records.

“Clearly we are excited about the potential of eRecord, but make no mistake: electronic medical records cannot replace the compassionate and sophisticated medical care that only health care professionals can provide. Nor can they solve all our challenges,” writes Berk and School of Medicine and Dentistry Dean Mark Taubman in a memo to Medical Center faculty and staff. “But they do give us the tools necessary for us to work smarter, faster, and better.

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