Columbus Hospital Embraces Move To Digital Records


The exercise allows doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel to become familiar with the software they’ll use with real patients and to work out any kinks before 1,200 CRH staff members begin training this month.

“We want to make sure the transfer process is right,” Boyer said.

Electronic records are not entirely new to CRH. In 1998, the hospital installed electronic records in certain departments, and they have been used for registration, billing, pharmacy, general finances, nursing documentation and radiology. The emergency department, though, admits patients using paper records that later are scanned into a database.

Paper records are inefficient because of the delay in getting the information into the database, said Dr. Steve Champion, an emergency department physician and CRH’s medical director of information systems. Paper also increases the risk that information will be misread or that dangerous drug interactions will occur, he added.

One problem with CRH’s current electronic system is that all the information is not in one database. Information cannot move from one department to another without the different databases being connected. That’s a cumbersome process, Boyer said, that can require a nurse to use four or five passwords to navigate among databases.

CRH was considering an investment in a new, less-cumbersome electronic health system when the June 2008 flood hit, closing the hospital for several months.

The hospital’s recovery period, and the federal stimulus, gave CRH time to re-examine what kind of electronic health record system it wanted.

The new system, supplied by Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner, will contain all patient information in a single database, making access to and the transfer of patient information easier. Indiana University Health is one of Cerner’s clients.

The $15 million price tag covers the costs of the software, new equipment and infrastructure updates, Boyer said. CRH expects to receive $5 million to $7 million in incentives from the federal government to help offset costs.

The new system will be implemented in phases. Registration, scheduling, billing, the emergency department, physical therapy and discharge are among the areas that will start in June. Oncology and cardiology are among those scheduled for a later second phase.

CRH has backup generators at the Tech Center and hospital to support the computer systems in case of a power outage, and redundant software applications in case of software problems, said Ron Latta, director of information services.

CRH is using encrypted laptops to guard against security breaches, Boyer said, and also hires contractors to probe for security gaps in its computer system.

“It’s a positive step for the hospital,” Boyer said.

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Posted by on Jun 1st, 2012 and filed under Literature & Electronic. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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