In less than one year the Information Systems department at White Mountain Regional Medical Center has taken the Medical Center from a paper charting system to an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system.  The EMR system will place the medical center in compliance with the recent healthcare reform legislation.  Legislation mandates hospitals to meet “meaningful use” requirements in terms of having an EMR system in place by 2013, or else face serious financial penalties.

Electronic charting began with the decision to install the T-System in the Emergency Room.  The T-system was developed specifically for an emergency department rather than being adapted from an enterprise system and made to simply “work” with an emergency department.  The medical center was looking for a system which would allow clinicians to document more rapidly without missing key information that could impact regulatory compliance, patient safety and reimbursement.  The medical center has been selected by T-Systems, Inc. as a model site visit facility.

An Information System’s steering committee consisting of clinicians, billing experts and IT staff was formed.  Their task was the selection of the EMR vendor; designing configuration for their department which would be built into the main system; training, testing, implementing the system; followed by troubleshooting any problems.

An EMR system, NextGen Healthcare, computerizes all patient care and support service processes and paperwork.  Rather than going to the Radiology Department to retrieve an x-ray or to Medical Records for a chart, all information is pulled together in one computer database for easy access by any doctor, nurse or other healthcare provider caring for their patient.  According to Rob Martin, IT Manager, the return on such a large investment will come from improved quality of patient care and safety, a dramatic reduction in manual processes, and increased productivity and efficiency of staff.

Since implementation of the EMR system is complete, the medical center is equipped to track data to demonstrate federally required “meaningful use” by the fourth quarter of 2012.  This will enable the Medical Center to receive reimbursement incentives from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for Medicare and AHCCCS patient visits.

Some of the benefits of the new system include:

• Healthcare providers will have access to their patient’s medical history, laboratory reports, surgical dictations, copies of correspondence, appointment schedules, x-rays, ultrasounds, nuclear medicine, CT and MRI scans, echocardiograms – all securely in an instant from a workstation on wheels. The patient’s provider, as well as specialists hundreds of miles away can also access your records from his/her office.  

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