Deer Lodge Medical Center recently completed the conversion to an electronic
medical record system.
Electronic medical records help to streamline healthcare, especially when
patients are transferred between facilities or receive medical care at
multiple locations. Electronic health records allow health care providers
to access all of a patient’s past medical information in one electronic
document rather than having to search through paper records. With electronic
systems, patients’ records will be able to follow them quickly between
facilities, saving time and reducing medical errors that result from the
lack of a patient’s past medical information.
The federal government is requiring that by 2015 all hospitals complete
the switch to electronic health records. Deer Lodge Medical Center chose
to use the EPIC health system. It is currently one of the best electronic
health systems available, but its high cost makes it hard for smaller,
rural hospitals to access it individually. Many smaller hospitals are
pairing up with larger organizations to help make the switch. Deer Lodge
Medical Center teamed up with St. Patrick’s Hospital Providence
Community Connect Program for the conversion.
Working with St. Patrick’s hospital in Missoula helped to save costs
and will allow for patients to transfer seamlessly between facilities
for their healthcare needs. With the EPIC system, each patient has a single,
secure, discrete patient record that can be accessed by authorized physicians
at any time, whether the physician is in Deer Lodge or Missoula. Electronic
medical records will also make it easier for patients to transfer their
medical information to other healthcare facilities.
Initially with electronic health records some productivity will be lost
as staff and physicians learn how to use the new system. Overtime, as
staff becomes familiar with the program, the electronic records should
help streamline processes, reduce waiting times and improve overall care.
In the future patients will also be able to access their electronic health
records through a secure website which will help improve patient education.