EPIC Electronic Health Records at Deer Lodge Medical Center

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.