Electronic health records coming to Hospital

As Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital adds many new services and new state-of-the-art equipment, the addition of electronic medical records comes as no surprise.

Representatives of Prognosis Health Information Systems, Inc. (HIS) visited Gridley recently to give a demonstration of the fully certified ChartAccess product, a certified comprehensive electronic health record (EHR). Prognosis is one of the first two vendors to receive certification for their ChartAccess product.

ChartAccess meets the needs of critical access hospitals such as BGMH and community hospitals, as it is engineered for speed and available at an affordable cost.

At the helm of providing necessary information to ChartAccess ahead of time is Tracy Atkins, who came to BGMH in August as Director of Systems Operations and Support. She is working on providing Prognosis with data load information that will include a list of all current employees and physicians to have them set them up ahead of time with specific department and role access that is necessary for their job. Information will be loaded directly into the computerized system, which means staff will no longer have to write in paper charts, but will enter patient information on screens specifically set up for electronic health records. Information is electronically stored, and a good portion of the information is already being built into the data base so that employees of BGMH can see how the new program looks by the end of October. The next step will then be for Prognosis to provide a test data base to BGMH to thoroughly test to ensure good quality.

Administration and supervisors, along with department heads and employees will test the product before going live with training for everyone planned in January. Atkins’ primary focus is to have the staff at BGMH comfortable with the basics of using computer systems prior to the Prognosis testing and training. It will of course take the help of Nathan Willingham, Manager IT, who keeps the many computers at the hospital working smoothly, along with the new Medical Specialty Center. Willingham has overseen the hospital going from 48 computer work stations to now over 100, which he gives credit to Hospital CEO David Yarbrough for this, among many other improvements.

A Computer Lab is being set up for employees of the hospital, designed for training the new EHR as well as increasing staff success with basic computer use.

The new EHR is web based technology hosted by Prognosis at a data center off site but with data and technical support provided 24/7. Staff will have plenty of practice time to feel comfortable and ask questions before going live.

Atkins has worked at two other hospitals when they have converted to electronic health records and is an EHR trainer herself.

“Once people get used to the electronic records, they find it difficult work without it. Inquiries from staff can be completely paperless to the physicians. Consent forms may or may not still have to be signed by the patient and kept in their file. We are hoping to be able to use a pen-based pad, similar to those signed at pharmacies, to be able to have a patient sign records for permission also” Atkins said.

Atkins lives in Sutter with her husband Alan who works for the USDA and they moved to California a year ago. The couple has a son Nathan who goes to Sutter High and a daughter Morgan who is in college and will receive her degree in December. Atkins received her M.B.A., in Virginia and is an RN.

She said she loves the people in California, loves living in Sutter and enjoys California and all that there is to offer. She does miss her family in Virginia and North Carolina, but now calls California home.

Electronic records means a patient’s medical information is available from provider to provider, making it possible to provide a higher level of care to patients. It also means the health records will be available electronically rather than in a paper chart, but only to those who have an exclusive user identification name and password. Up to 90-95 percent of the paper should go away with the remainder being scanned into a patient’s EHR.

BGMH board members, medical staff and department supervisors gathered to view a power point presentation from Prognosis and to be able to ask any questions.

One advantage of electronic health records is of course a vast savings in paper as so many companies’ go “green” and asks that paper be saved any way possible. The main advantage and selling point is the ease with which medical professionals can obtain medical records of their patients for example while in another facility, just by the use of a computer, user identification and password.

When a nurse logs into a patient’s electronic health record, he or she has a unique user id and password which will take them straight to a list of patients with pharmaceuticals to administer for example. The system will not allow an employee to randomly view a patient’s records unless they have the rights to access and access will be determined by the employee’s role in the hospital. Physicians will have access so that they can directly enter orders or give orders to staff, whether it is for their own patient or the patient of another doctor they are covering for. The patient profile and photograph (taken at time of admission, for identification purposes), comes up on the screen along with any allergies. The system remembers the way a certain staff member prefers to look at each chart such as the order of pharmaceuticals, lab tests, x rays, etc. Physicians, lab staff, registration staff will be able to select specific items and patient lists that pertain to their department and role.

The system even keeps track of who has looked at what electronic records and where they went in the file, which is vital for H.I.P.P.A. laws. Hospitals have a choice whether they want to use IPads, computers with a mouse and keyboard, tablet or laptop, since all can provide access to Prognosis. Staff is currently being polled as to what they would like to use at the patient’s bedside, although more than one method can be used since some may prefer actual workstations over portable technology. Wireless is of course more efficient and much preferred over running many wires throughout the hospital and clinic.

Training specialists will ensure proper integration into the workflow of BGMH with customized training tools to make sure the hospital gets the most out of ChartAccess from the beginning to identify areas for increased efficiency.

Atkins second focus is IT support with Willingham and keeping up with constant updates as the IT department grows and the team continues to focus on decreasing paper use and increasing electronic processes at the hospital. She is also focusing on the HFAP Accreditation, workflow processes and policies and procedures which takes much of her time.

“Streamlining the processes means improving quality outcomes,” Atkins said.