Next phase of PAH e-records goes live Monday

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The main goal of Punxsutawney Area Hospital’s transition to electronic medical records (EMR): Patient safety, improving the quality of patient care and staying competitive in a quickly-changing health care field.

 Thanks to hospital staff implementing the transition behind the scenes, patients really shouldn’t notice any difference in services, aside from perhaps a few more questions from their doctors or nurses. And that staff will now have a computer to input their information that they collect into the system.

 Monday, the remaining two-thirds of Phase II of the transition the patient care system (PCS) and the bedside medication verification (BMV) module (or bar-scanning medication given to the patient with an electronic medication administration record) go live. 

The operating room module (ORM, or documentation of the surgical patient for the short procedure unit, operating room and post-anesthesia care unit staff), went live June 14. 

With EMR, basically, a patient’s entire chart is transitioning from a paper system (charts, records, all written by hand by hospital staff) to a computerized system with which staff can collect patient information one time and make it available to any department serving a particular client.

 “It allows us to share information across all hospital departments
easily, and access information almost instantly,” said Dawne Davis, RN, the team leader overseeing the transition for the PCS module.

Not only will transitioning to EMR increase accessibility and speed, but it will also make great strides in patient safety, especially in terms of medication and dosage, and reducing medical errors.

The first portion of the change implementing the MEDITECH EMR system for revenue cycle applications, order management, and emergency department management with computer provider order entry was it was implemented July 1, 2010 and is the basis of the system.

 BMV implements devices to scan a patient’s ID bracelet that detail his or her medication via computer verification, as well as the proper dosages and alerts.

“It will reduce any sort of medication error that could exist,” said Norman Fry, RN, BSN, team leader for the ORM module.

What can the patient expect?

Fry said the June 14 implementation went smoothly, but patients could possibly expect to spend a few more minutes answering more in-depth questions, as hospital staff will seek more data to form a better-rounded chart that will be entered into the system.

Some of the questions may be asked to meet federal meaningful use standards, but on the whole, the more detailed information could shorten the patient’s next visit, because his or her information will be well-documented in the system for whichever hospital staff member is providing services.

The hospital’s transition to EMR is a $2.5 million investment, most of which will be reimbursed through government grant funding.

“The federal government has made significant financial incentives available for hospitals to implement EMRs in an attempt to improve patient safety and control health care costs,” hospital CEO Dan Blough said. “However, facilities not well on the journey to achieving federal ‘meaningful use’ standards supporting electronic medical records by 2014 will see reductions in the federal reimbursement monies.” 

Phases I and II of the EMR transition have challenged all departments at the hospital to work together in a team atmosphere, Davis said, which has entailed some departments working with others for the very first time.

Fry said that the transition is helping to keep Punxsutawney Area Hospital competitive. That’s also valuable when recruiting new physicians to the hospital, who can see that PAH is not years behind technological advances in health care. 

“It shows that the Punxsutawney hospital is not letting technology pass us by,” he said. “We’re moving forward, and this system could match or surpass any hospitals in the area.”

Davis also said the investment into the EMR system is not only by the administration, but also the hospital’s board of directors, which sees the importance of moving forward and staying competitive.

“It’s giving us a great opportunity overall, and it’s pretty well accepted,” she said. “We’ve got to keep competitive.”