Upstate New York healthcare network moves to electronic medical records

Bassett Healthcare Network, a six-member hospital network based in upstate New York, is continuing its transition to electronic medical records (EMRs). The network transitioned its outpatient services to an enhanced EMR back in 2011 and has recently implemented an EMR in the inpatient setting at the 180-bed Bassett Medical Center, which went live Dec. 8.

Bassett Healthcare Network affiliate hospitals in Little Falls, Cobleskill, Delhi and Sidney will follow suit in 2013. The end result, officials say, will be more coordinated care, improved efficiency in healthcare delivery, improved medication safety and an enhanced patient experience.

Electronic workstations on wheels (WOW) are the backbone of the inpatient EMR system. Instead of reviewing a paper chart for patient history or orders, doctors and nurses can tap into these portable workstations from virtually any location within the hospital. All medical and demographic information about the patient is now contained in a single consolidated electronic record.

[See also: Upper Peninsula Health Information Exchange goes live.]

Gretchen Hodgdon, MD, who leads the inpatient EMR physician advisory group, says some of the changes that will result from the inpatient EMR, like the WOW units, will be obvious to patients. Other changes will be less apparent but equally as important to hospital staff.

“A great deal of my day right now is spent on information gathering and on documentation. I literally go to five different places in the hospital to collect data before I even walk into the patient’s room," she says. "With the EMR, all of the information is at my fingertips, and that means more time with patients."

[See also: Despite EHRs, healthcare still 'buried in paperwork,' says survey.]

“WOW is the appropriate acronym for what this technology will do for us and our patients,” notes Chief Network Nursing Officer Connie Jastremski. “It puts everyone involved in the care of a patient on the same page with up-to-date, real time information. We will truly be connected in a way we haven’t been in the past, which means even better patient care and the best possible outcomes.”

Officials say other information technology benefits that came with the EMR system include barcode medication administration, enhanced coordination of care within the healthcare network and faster provider access to test results.

Four other Bassett affiliate hospitals — Little Falls Hospital, Cobleskill Regional Hospital, O’ Connor Hospital in Delhi and Tri-Town Regional Hospital in Sidney — will go live with the system February 2013. Affiliate A.O. Fox Hospital uses a different EMR; work is underway to allow for information sharing between the two systems.