Read the related story at TheUnion.com
"Record collection rocks doc's world, Electronic patient files push paper aside" - by Michelle Rindels
June 21, 2010, Grass Valley, CA - Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is pleased to announce the launch of a community-wide collaboration on an electronic health record (EHR) system. This system is designed to improve patient care, reduce costs and medication errors, and increase efficiency.
Mark Freitas, director of information services for the hospital, said the system is "going live" at the Nevada County Department of Public Health and at the office of Dr. Christopher Claydon, a general practice physician who specializes in geriatric care.
"We are plugging it in first at these two locations, but the system is designed to be used by all providers," Freitas said. "Every doctor who wants to participate will be phased in over the next three years."
He noted that the system also would benefit the Department of Public Health, schools, skilled nursing facilities, urgent care, clinics and safety net providers.
The move puts SNMH years ahead of federal plans to mandate electronic medical records as part of its national healthcare reform. Federal officials have cited electronic record keeping as a key to reducing costs and errors, and improving communications between providers of medical services.
"The healthcare system as a whole will benefit from electronic medical record keeping," Freitas said, citing efficiencies, cost savings, and improved coordination as key benefits. "But quality patient care was and is our primary focus. What the patient should see is seamless communication between doctors, simplified admitting and ordering procedures, enhanced safety through reduction of medication errors, and immediate transmission of test results to appropriate physician providers. Overall, we want to create a better hospital experience for our patients, as well as a system to benefit the entire community."
Freitas said the system also would help the hospital attract more physicians to western Nevada County.
Work on the system began in 2005, when the hospital and its foundation created the Greater Sierra Health Information Organization (GSHIO), and assembled a task force that included community physicians, the Sierra Nevada Integrated Physicians Association, local public health officials, and key hospital managers. The hospital spent $591,000 on the project, and the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation obtained $771,000 in funding from Unitedhealthcare Services, Inc., and the Office of Health Information Technology under the federal Department of Health & Human Services. That funding will help pay for installation, training, database setup and help desk support for physicians who sign up to take part.
Freitas said the GSHIO would host the provider network server, and connect users with the electronic health record system supported by eClinicalWorks. As participants, healthcare providers will be able to document and archive patient records, prescribe medications electronically and exchange information securely.
He said the electronic health record is a secure platform for the exchange of sensitive patient information. Records will be encrypted, password protected and patients will decide who should have access to their records.
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Editors: For more information contact Mark Freitas at 530-274-6023 or firstname.lastname@example.org