IBM announced that St. Elizabeth Healthcare is connecting hospitals, clinics, and physicians offices in Northern Kentucky in the state’s largest roll-out of EMRs to improve patient care and lower costs.
Today, only 1.5% of U.S. hospital systems have a comprehensive electronic records system, putting St. Elizabeth Healthcare at the edge of nationwide efforts to modernize healthcare and meet the nation’s goal of providing every patient an EMR by 2014. The system is expected to replace a warehouse full of paper-based records on more than 50,000 patients in the St. Elizabeth Healthcare system.
“This represents an important step and a unified foundation to deliver better care to our patients,” says Alex Rodriguez, chief information officer for St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “Today, only about one sixth of the population in the U.S. is covered by an electronic health record. This … initiative will mean that more than 12% of the population of Northern Kentucky and the greater Cincinnati area will have an electronic medical record. Regardless if a patient is seen at their physician’s office, an acute care hospital, or the emergency room, caregivers will have deep insight into patient history and care can be better coordinated.”
The new system is expected to help improve the quality of care each patient receives by providing better access to patient information, a complete view of patient history, medication and treatment plans, and even faster access to lab results to make better, more informed decisions.
It will make it easier for patients to obtain prescriptions electronically to reduce medical errors, cut drug costs, and save doctors and patients’ time and money. Patients will also be able to access their medical records, get lab results, schedule appointments, and get referrals online. With the click of a mouse, doctors and nurses will be able to see real-time patient information, lab results, EKGs, x-rays, scans, and even prescriptions, making it faster and easier to make a more effective diagnosis and treatment plan.
Plans for this new integrated system were underway before the federal government turned its focus to EMRs as part of economic stimulus efforts. However, the new EMR system at St. Elizabeth Healthcare meets the requirements for hospitals and doctor’s offices and is well-positioned to meet all criteria for stimulus funds. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that mass adoption of systems such as this one could result in savings of $12 billion over 10 years.
The roll-out of the new system is focused first on doctor’s offices, which will begin in September, and then clinics and ambulatory care sites within St. Elizabeth Healthcare. The entire system, including all six hospitals, nearly 1,000 physicians, 31 primary care doctor’s offices, and four imaging centers and clinics, is expected to be fully connected in one unified system by fall 2010.
This system uses Epic’s software and is powered by IBM Power 570 and 550 servers running AIX, IBM’s UNIX operating system. The medical records and clinical information system includes EpicCare Ambulatory, Resolute Hospital Billing, EpicCare Inpatient, Prelude Registration, and Cadence Scheduling. IBM Power Systems servers with virtualization technology provide the computing power to support the system and offer the flexibility to expand as the hospital system’s needs grow.