Friday, February 18, 2011

Hospitals continue to work towards electronic records

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - Both of Southeast Missouri's largest hospitals are working to complete their conversions to electronic medical record.

St. Francis Medical Center's $11.8 million conversion is expected to enter the final phase by 2012. Despite government incentives, the center expects to lose approximately $4.6 million.

Diane Smith, director of Information Systems, says St. Francis is initiating a program called Healthy Connect to safeguard privacy. It provides an information exchange between healthcare providers. It also allows for private communication. Healthy Connect is powered by a central server, unlike public email.

"It adds another layer of protection and security that patients will receive some comfort in so far as thinking that their records will be public and out on the Internet," Smith said.

Patients won’t have to list off their medical history each visit. Instead it will be available to other healthcare providers through the system.

Southeast HEALTH has been making the switch for several years as well.

The estimated cost for the entire project is around $15 million. While several physician’s offices have already gone electronic, the hospital expects to be completely electronic by mid-2013.

Southeast Health is addressing concerns by providing safety measures for patients, according to Jay McGuire, director of Information Systems at Southeast HEALTH.

“We’ve instituted a very robust auditing system so we can find out who accessed a record, date and time they did, so we can backtrack and find out should there be a breech," McGuire said.

The process will allow staff quicker access to medical records, and eventually provide a patient portal. McGuire says the system is more efficient and will help ease the storage crunch caused by paper records.

Rachel Weatherford, KRCU


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