UTMC prepares for next electronic medical record go-live

May 18, 2010 | News, UToday
By Jon Strunk

The University of Toledo Medical Center is planning to go live Tuesday, May 18, with Horizon Expert Documentation (HED), the newest and most widespread effort by UT’s Digital Campus Project to make paperless the records and processes central to patient care.

The launch focuses on nursing and ancillary care, such as nutrition, physical, occupational and speech therapies, and pastoral care, among others.

“By centralizing patient information into a single electronic patient record, we will streamline patient care, prevent a duplication of services, and improve patient safety,” said Julie Christy, director of clinical informatics, who is leading coordination of the Digital Campus initiative.

Christy said more than 200 computers have been added — some on moveable work stations and others embedded into walls or at nursing stations — all designed to ensure new information added to a patient’s medical record is available for all UTMC caregivers to see.

Brian Roessner, a registered nurse who has been assisting with HED, said while there will certainly be a culture shift, the end result will benefit patients.

“Patients will benefit from the carrying over of longitudinal data such as medication information and medical histories, and, additionally, real-time viewing of this and episodic data by their clinicians at the bedside,” Roessner said. “This in turn will enhance efficiency and continuity of care during their hospital stay or with repeat admissions between patient-clinician and amongst various clinicians.”

Roessner said a change in the way patient medications are administered also will greatly improve safety.

“With the new system including the use of bar-coded medications, patient armbands and clinician IDs, multiple verification points are established electronically in the process of administration to reduce the chance of medication errors,” he said.

HED also will save doctors time and ensure they know where to get information, according to Churton Budd, systems analyst in clinical informatics.

“With an electronic patient record, certain types of information are always in the same location, and doctors don’t have to flip through pages and pages of paper and decipher handwriting to find what they’re looking for,” Budd said.

“The system can also help prevent problems. If a patient has a history of falls, a note on his or her electronic record can alert everyone that additional precautions should be taken when transporting a patient around the hospital, for example,” he said.

Budd said extensive work also has been completed to increase UTMC network security and that clinical informatics had even outfitted clinical computer workstations with wireless switches that can be manually flipped to alert clinical informatics of the exact position on a hospital floor plan map. A Client Services tech can be dispatched or the computer can then be logged into remotely and, in many cases, have its issues resolved in a matter of minutes.

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