For almost a decade they have been touted as being one of the keys to improving patient care and reducing health care costs, but wide scale implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) has been slow to catch on until now.
On June 1, after years of research, planning and training, Gulf Coast Medical Center became the first hospital in Lee County to convert to the newest generation and most comprehensive EHR. With a focus on continuously improving patient care and cost efficiency, the launch at Gulf Coast Medical Center is a significant step in the process of a system-wide EHR conversion across all care settings, using the Epic EHR Program technology, hospital officials said.
Gulf Coast Medical Center is the first of the System’s hospitals to incorporate the program across the board. The other hospitals—Lee Memorial Hospital, HealthPark Medical Center, Cape Coral Hospital, and the System’s outpatient centers - will follow in the coming months. Lee Physician Group offices and the emergency departments at Cape Coral Hospital, HealthPark Medical Center and Lee Memorial Hospital have already successfully implemented the Epic program. A deadline of 2013 has been set for complete System adoption.
“Our goal is one patient, one record,” said Mike Smith, Lee Memorial Health System chief information officer. “With the implementation of the Epic program system-wide, we will have a single EHR across all care settings, increasing our opportunities to continuously improve patient care and safety while pursuing cost effectiveness.”
Utilizing EHRs offers numerous benefits to patients, including:
• Consistency and accuracy when it comes to tracking medical history.
• Reduction or elimination of the need to fill out redundant medical forms from one health care provider to another.
• Improved management of prescriptions and tests through the use of bar-coded medication administration at the bedside and clinical alerting for such things as allergies and medication conflicts.
• Comprehensive and user-friendly printouts related to an illness or ailment.
• Patient alerts, such as notifying a physician when it’s time to update immunizations.