Electronic records system touted to Jefferson Healthcare board

By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — A new digital patient-records system called Epic would increase the efficiency in the management of Jefferson Healthcare patient records and facilitate coordinated treatment among different institutions, the hospital’s chief executive officer said.

If all goes according to a tentative schedule, the hospital could have the Epic patient-records management system up and running by the middle of 2013, CEO Mike Glenn told hospital commissioners Wednesday afternoon.

“What is really exciting about this is that we are now providing a couple of steps below the average medical record, if there is such a thing at a hospital, and overnight being a couple of steps above the average records,” Glenn said of the transition.

“Particularly with our provider network, it will be fantastic to have this level of integration.

Commissioners will consider giving approval to proceed at their Oct. 17 meeting, set for
3:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the hospital at 834 Sheridan St.

Conversion, which includes a 10-year service contract, would cost the hospital $3.4 million to $3.7 million over five years with a yearly operating cost of approximately $300,000, according to Information Services Director Roger Harrison.

Access to the Epic system was cited as one of the advantages of Jefferson Healthcare’s reciprocal care agreement with Swedish Medical Center, which commissioners approved last year along with Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles and Forks Community Hospital.

Epic is the market leader, Glenn said Wednesday.

“This will allow us to deliver health care better and more efficiently,” he said.

“We are really on the crest of the wave of organizations that will be implementing this.”

Purchase of a version of the Epic system, which includes network hardware, data center hardware and licensing, and point-of-care hardware — computers, scanners and other equipment — was approved last month by OMC commissioners, who voted unanimously for a $7.6 million agreement with Providence Health and Services.

Jefferson Healthcare, with 25 beds, is considerably smaller than the Epic minimum of 200 beds, and the hospital’s outreach to Epic prior to the Swedish affiliation was ignored, according to Glenn.

Swedish, through its recently purchased Providence Medical Center, will provide an Epic license to Jefferson Healthcare that can be adapted to the smaller facility.

This operation differs from the OMC model: The server will be located off-site at the Providence facility.

Jefferson Healthcare will need to make some equipment purchases, replacing about 150 computers that are too outdated to run the new system and adding another 150 computers for a total of about 700 terminals throughout the hospital, Harrison said.

“This is a very important step for us, and it is essential that we do every step right, including the due diligence, the contracts, the vetting and then the implementation, which will be the biggest challenge,” Harrison said.

Glenn said the Epic system is “fully integrated and enterprisewide,” as opposed to other vendors who use several unrelated modules under the umbrella of an interface.

“There’s a lot of things that we do that could be done so much better if we have an electronic records system,” said Joyce Cardinal, a certified nurse educator who works at the hospital.

“We get orders from physicians on paper that are sometimes difficult to decipher as a person tries to figure out what it says, and we spend a lot of time looking for paper records,” she continued.

“With an electronic record, we can eliminate mistakes in providing medication,” she added.

“This increases patient safety because we can make sure we are administering the right medication to the right patient.”

The tentative schedule for implementation would begin with a workflow analysis in December and January conducted by Providence personnel, followed by a four- to six-week design period when the system is built.

A three-month installation and training period, during which time both the old and new systems will run in parallel, would take place with plans to “go live” in June.

Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at charlie.bermant@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: October 04. 2012 5:57PM
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