Baylor sets 7-year, $119 million plan for EMR

By Diane Dannenfeldt
12:00 AM

Baylor Health Care System has set a seven-year timeline to complete its $119 million enterprise-wide clinical information initiative, which will result in a comprehensive electronic medical record that will detail care provided at any of its facilities.

The first step along the march to electronic records will start by June for Dallas-based Baylor, an integrated delivery network that operates 11 hospitals, 47 clinics, physician offices or ancillary sites.

"We'll do a system-wide design for the EMR and then install it across our campuses, starting in parallel on at least two campuses this summer," said Robert Pickton, senior vice president and chief information officer for Baylor.

Baylor is using Eclipsys Corp.'s SunriseXA clinical information software for the initiative.

"During the first half of this year, we're working on a pilot EMR in the physician office, building the program management office, loading the software, and building and educating the teams."

Four physician practices have been handpicked as early adopters for the pilot project. As part of the prerequisite, the physicians had to go through a quality class and a training class, and agree to switch as a group to the new EMR.

"We'll be automating the entire practice to replace the old processes with new processes focused on highest-quality, best-care scenarios," Pickton said.

Previous efforts to assist physicians with automation, which have been under way since 1997, will help Baylor get the buy-in it needs for the EMR project, Pickton said.

"That greatly improved physicians' computer literacy and their understanding of the role of computer technology in medical practice," he noted.

Baylor's advance legwork has included creating an enterprise-wide network, standardizing business applications, making decisions about medical devices, and identifying potential EMR "champions" among its staff.

Baylor plans to cut the number of clinical information systems it uses to fewer than 10 vendors and 20 application suites, from 40 vendors and 80 product suites.

As part of the clinical initiative, Baylor and Eclipsys will work to develop the medical content and supporting processes for the physician office and the practice of oncology. The findings will be shared with other ambulatory settings and oncology practices.

Pickton expects all of Baylor's campuses to be converted to the new clinical system before the end of the seven-year timeframe. However, "the seven-year window gives us a chance to talk about it being at the end of the decade - and to realize the results and be able to describe how the clinical transformation has changed our healthcare system in the later years," he said.

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