In a recent article published by the Associated Press based on national surveys, it is estimated that fewer than 13 percent of hospitals in the United States have either fully implemented, or even modestly begun, an electronic health record system. The federal government has recently renewed its call for hospitals to adopt electronic health records and have now tied financial payments to ensure compliance.
East Jefferson General Hospital began its implementation of electronic records over four years ago, well ahead of the curve, and is steadily progressing to full implementation. It has been a massive undertaking, requiring expert advice from virtually every department of the hospital. This promises to offer a tremendous benefit to our community.
Electronic health records allow hospitals to store all patient data electronically, while moving away from paper charts and records. The electronically-based records have extensive security measures built in to protect patient privacy. They are more accurate, reduce medical errors, and can provide faster life saving treatments because they are entered in real-time.
The hospital's latest technological advancement has been adding Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) into the Emergency Department. Physicians are now able to directly assess a patient and order tests in real-time with hand-held computer scanners, shortening the time frame between order and actual testing. In the Emergency Department in particular, the speed at which tests can be performed and results can be obtained can improve a patient's outcome. As soon as the orders are given, nurses are immediately notified on the next step of care through large flat screen monitors strategically placed in the treatment area.
Two additional advantages to the system is reducing the need to interpret physician handwriting and the order of sets that are created to give physicians guidelines based on patient-specific symptoms. These advantages are extremely important as care is continually streamlined through evidence-based, best practice guidelines. These guidelines are helpful in diagnosing and treating common patient complaints such as abdominal pain, chest pain, or fever. Further, the system offers automatic medication alerts when there is a potential risk of allergy or cross-reaction to other medicine the patient is currently taking.
"Electronic health record implementation puts East Jefferson among the nation's leaders," says Dr. Roland Waguespack, Emergency Department physician. "It stays true to our emphasis on patient safety. Everyone here is committed to staying ahead of the curve on patient safety improvements."