Unity Medical Center going electronic
GRAFTON – Last Friday was an “Epic” day at Unity Medical Center in Grafton. Friday was the first day that the health care facility went electronic with all of it record keeping and data entry.
“Along with all of the requirements of Medicare and the federal government, everyone is converting over their systems into medical records,” Unity Medical center CEO Everett Butler said.
In fact the switch to electronic medical records was mandated by President Barack Obama’s Reinvest in America Act, enacted in his first term in office.
Butler said UMC recently signed a contract with Altru to join their electronic medical record system network. He said most other health care facilities have done so, or are currently in the process of doing so.
A total of 37 support staff from Altru Health Systems in Grand Forks were on site Friday for the initial “go live” that started just after midnight, to make sure the transition went smoothly and all questions that needed to be asked were answered.
“They’ve been working with every aspect of the organization from the clinic to business services, admissions, emergency room – everything,” Butler said. “Every department that takes care of patients will be on record.”
According to Butler it’s been a long process. UMC employees have been working and training with Altru staff for the last month and a half with their staff coming to Grafton and members of UMC’s staff going to Grand Forks.
According to administrative director of information services Mark Waind, Altru went completely electronic in April 2010, ending a 14-month transition process.
Altru uses a system developed by Epic, an electronic medical records system company which is based in Verona, Wisc.
Every aspect of a patient’s dealings with UMC will now be stored electronically which will do away with scores of paper records. It will also make sharing of records much simpler.
Bulter said physicians will be privy to patient records all along the network. For example if a patient from Grafton is doctoring in Grand Forks, the physician in Grand Forks will have instant access to the patient’s records.
In the past, that information would have to be brought by the patient on paper, faxed or transferred by some other means.
“Typically what would happen in the past, if that information wasn’t available, you’d have to re-run tests,” Waind said. “We always have to make sure we have the appropriate consent from a patient that their information can be shared. But, if it’s in place it’s a really nice feature for the patient and their safety.”
According to Waind, another neat aspect of the Epic system is that patients in Grafton will eventually be able to access their own medical records via an application on their personal smartphones.
With the new system, computer terminals are popping up in places where they weren’t before including examination rooms and nurses’ stations.
According to UMC Foundation Director Christl Durand, the transition to electronic medical records has been well received by department heads and staff and everyone has been working extra hard to learn the new system.