Operating-room man-ager Keith Hanf and Jenni Sheetz, both nurses, enter patient data from binders into a new computerized system at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center.
THE BLADE/LORI KING
A new, high-tech computerized patient record system at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center is designed to provide doctors and nurses quicker access to patient information, which officials say could save lives and improve treatment.
The multimillion-dollar system was to begin operating at 2 a.m. today.
The system, called MyChart, consolidates all patient records into a database accessible to hospital physicians, nurses, the patient, and the patient’s personal health-care providers, said Randy King, chief medical officer for Mercy St. Vincent.
The hospital had used several electronic systems that could not interact, which kept doctors and nurses from sharing patient information quickly. It also resulted in multiple patient records, which increased the opportunity for errors to be made, Mr. King said.
“We believe this system will provide a high degree of care and value,” said Kevin Cook, president and chief executive officer of Mercy St. Vincent. “It is a highly competitive environment in health care. But what we want to do is provide the best care to the community.”
ProMedica Health System uses a program called McKesson Horizon, which was initially installed in 2009 but is constantly upgraded, spokesman Jared Meade said. The system has multiple platforms for nurses, physicians, and other health staff that allow them to interact but doesn’t consolidate all patient records.
ProMedica doesn’t have computers stationed in each patient’s room but does have several “work stations on wheels” that allow staff to relocate computers as needed, Mr. Meade said.
Officials with University of Toledo Medical Center did not respond for comment.
The MyChart system also will be installed at Mercy St. Charles Hospital and Mercy St. Anne Hospital in April, 2014, Mr. Cook said.
St. Vincent first installed an electronic computer record system in 2004, but its capabilities were limited, said Megan Williams, a registered nurse at St. Vincent. Prior to that, nurses or doctors could take 20 minutes trying to locate each other to share patient data or directions on paper documents. “We had to use paper, which could be easily misplaced,” Ms. Williams said. “And let’s face it: Most doctors don’t have very good handwriting.”
Ms. Williams is one of several hospital employees who have spent the past several months training more than 3,000 doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff on how to use MyChart.
The beauty of the system is that a nurse can input patient observations and list medications being taken, patient allergies, or any other pertinent information that the doctor will be able to quickly scan on a computer, Ms. Williams said.
Although the electronic system is a great tool, hospital staff must be mindful that patients need personal attention, Mr. King said.
“Technology is great,” Mr. King said. “But it doesn’t take away the need for face-to-face interaction.”
Computers have been installed in all hospital rooms at St. Vincent, which will allow doctors to show patients their test results and medical records at their bedside.
There are several safeguards so only approved employees — doctors and nurses — can access patient data, Mr. King said. Chronically ill patients will be able to access their records from a computer at home and can report any problems or send questions directly to their personal doctor.
“The MyChart option may not work best” for non-English-speaking patients, Ms. Williams admitted. The system provides information only in English. But the hospital can provide language translators and print information in Spanish or many other languages, she said.
Teams of 40 hospital employees have taken turns inputting patients’ paper records into the system.
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