Electronic medical record promises a higher standard of care
After more than a year-long process that included vendor and equipment selection and months of clinical staff and physician training, Harrison Medical Center went live in September with the first phase of a $30.5 million state-of-the-art electronic medical record (EMR) system. Known as HERO-Harrison Electronic Record and Orders-the new system will support Harrison’s No. 1 commitment: patient safety and privacy. “We’ve done a lot of work on security to ensure the system is bulletproof,” explains Adar Palis, Harrison’s vice president and chief information officer. “Patients can be sure their care-and their personal health information-is safe.”
The new system is more efficient, accessible and accurate than the traditional paper record, eliminating human errors that can occur when information is entered manually. And multiple caregivers can access the electronic record at the same time from anywhere the Internet is available-an impossibility with a paper record. Adding to efficiency is patient information that is instantly available across patient-care units, pharmacy, and emergency departments. “This improves communication among all involved in a patient’s care,” says Palis.
The $30.5 million investment is a serious financial undertaking and investment in our patients’ safety. The 2006 decision by Harrison’s board of directors to approve the funding underscores the organization’s commitment to a higher standard of care.
More than 600 employees and physicians participated in the selection process of the system provider-the Eclipsys Corporation-as well as the devices that are used: wireless computer carts, wall-mounted monitors, and motion tablets that feature an embedded digital camera and barcode reader. “We wanted our employees and physicians to have ownership of this effort, and letting them be part of the decision process contributed to that,” Palis says. “They are, after all, the end users-the ones at the bedside.”
Harrison’s electronic leap into the 21st century began September 16 at the Bremerton, Silverdale, and Port Orchard campuses with a 10-day go-live of phase one of five phases. HERO trainers on all patient-care units were in blue HERO T-shirts-Super HEROES in orange-all with advanced training and readily accessible to answer staff questions and problem solve. Staff at command centers at the Bremerton and Silverdale campuses walked users through a three-step resolution process. After the official go live, end users have the around- the-clock assistance of the hospital’s Information Technology Help Desk.
“Our go-live went well,” says Palis. “Our plan was solid, and we took our time with each step, making sure our employees and physicians had the tools and training necessary to be successful. It was important to be responsive to the end users needs.”
The groundwork to implement the five phases of the EMR will take about three years (completing in late 2009) and began late 2006 with the addition of wireless internet access on all three campuses, a benefit to patients and families who wish to bring laptops to the hospital.
Palis is quick to point out that a project of this magnitude doesn’t happen without the contributions of many people and the support of others. “Everyone at Harrison had a part in our early victory and in our continued success,” he says. “They’re the real heroes.”