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HAMC going digital

By Staff | Sep 20, 2013

The Heart of America Medical Center is starting the transition to electronic medical records, which should make communicating patients needs and backgrounds much easier, both with other hospitals and within the HAMC.

“Patient safety and quality all goes up,” said Johnson Clinic administrator Jim Potvin. “Electronic medical record has been looked at for almost three years.”

Previously, the hospital’s record system was through a company called Healthland, but in making the change to digital, HAMC is going with a company called Epic, considered a leader in the field.

It’s used at a majority of the major hospitals statewide and to the major hospitals where HAMC sends patients.

“We looked at a number of options,” Potvin said. “With Epic, we have a great opportunity to piggyback on Altru’s system which made it economically feasible. It’s one of the best in the country, and generally smaller hospitals can’t afford this.

We’re going to be using Altru’s backbone. It’s an incredible thing for a community hospital.”

Potvin said even hospitals that don’t use Epic, which has about a 23 percent market share in the industry, will still be able to access the records easily.

“Even the ones that don’t use it will allow for electronic transmission of records at some level,” he said.

Potvin said the nursing staff started training this week and the program will go live on Nov. 1.

“With recruiting physicians it’s been a big plus,” he said. “The places where these doctors have been training use Epic, too.”

Potvin said the system should improve communication between hospitals as well as cut down on the number of paper files needed for patients.

“Some of the places where information drops through the cracks are going to be sealed,” he said. “If it’s updated in the clinic, the hospital will know. If it’s updated at the hospital, the clinic will now. After Nov. 1, there will be no paper following them around anymore. As far as current patients, they’re going to see the chart won’t be in the room with them anymore. Eventually we will have almost no paper, when we get information in, it will be scanned and it will be shredded. The burden of tracking down charts will be gone.”

He said hospital personnel have been shadowing at other hospitals in preparation for the changeover.

“It will improve patient care and quality and once the providers get used to it, they will love it too,” Potvin said.

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