When Mercy Health System President and CEO Lynn Britton was in Ardmore recently for a roundtable discussion about the future of health care in Ardmore,  he talked about some of the ways the Sisters of Mercy Health System is improving patient care, including instituting a switch from paper to electronic patient medical records.


 


By moving into the digital age, all health care providers who are part of the Mercy system will have instant computer access to patient records.


 


For example, if you have to go to the emergency room with an illness that has worsened and you are already a patient of one of the Mercy system physicians, you won’t have to fill out any paperwork because your medical history and insurance information is already entered and ready for easy access.


When Mercy Health System President and CEO Lynn Britton was in Ardmore recently for a roundtable discussion about the future of health care in Ardmore,  he talked about some of the ways the Sisters of Mercy Health System is improving patient care, including instituting a switch from paper to electronic patient medical records.

 

By moving into the digital age, all health care providers who are part of the Mercy system will have instant computer access to patient records.

 

For example, if you have to go to the emergency room with an illness that has worsened and you are already a patient of one of the Mercy system physicians, you won’t have to fill out any paperwork because your medical history and insurance information is already entered and ready for easy access.

 

“There would be no guessing what tests were done, what medicines were prescribed and what diagnosis your primary care doctor gave you,” Mercy Health System of Oklahoma President and CEO Di Smalley said in a column published in The Oklahoman.

 

The concept of comprehensive electronic medical records systems is still relatively new, although it is something President Obama has touted as an integral part of health care reform. And federal economic stimulus funds have been earmarked for helping doctors, health clinics and hospitals pay for paperless medical records systems.

 

Mercy is using Epic software to create its digital record-keeping system. The health center’s medical clinics have been using the Epic system since 2009, and the hospital will switch over to the new system on June 27 to coincide with the opening of the new patient tower.

 

“Accessibility is phenomenal,” Memorial Medical Clinic Manager Barry Hamblin said. “There is a learning curve, but it is very user-friendly.”

 

The system allows authorized doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists and other personnel to access a patient’s medical information with a click of a mouse or a few key strokes. Automatic alerts help prevent potential allergic reactions or negative drug interactions. And electronic charts are legible and always on hand.

 

Hamblin said security is not an issue because the system is password protected.

 

“The system is just like you were shopping on eBay,” he said.

 

Many experts believe a paperless system will revolutionize medicine by minimizing errors and reducing costs while protecting patient information, and Hamblin agrees.

 

“It really does offer better patient care,” he said. “With e-scribing, prescriptions can be sent directly to the pharmacy. And errors will be greatly reduced.”

 

By mid-2010, all of Mercy’s hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices will be using the same paperless system — something that puts them far ahead of the vast majority of health care systems in the nation.