Archive August 2013 XIV, No. 8

Payoffs of Going Paperless

After enduring many trials and tribulations, this hospital is finally reaping the benefits of its conversion to electronic medical records.

Annette Saylor, RN, CNOR, CRNFA

BIO

going paperless SMART CHARTING Is going paperless worth it? Brooke Alire, RN, of Community Hospital in Grand Junction, Colo., thinks so.

The Year of the EMR Conversion. That was 2012, nothing but contracts, interfaces, workflow analysis, programs, servers, wizards, procedure cards and pick lists. Planning and implementing an electronic medical records system required hard work, long days and learning a new lingo, but now that it's done we're beginning to reap the benefits.

What did all that work gain for our hospital's surgical services department? Precious time. More time with patients, less time documenting, less time gathering performance data.

Our new EMR provides all the documentation prompts, procedure cards and actionable data we need. It also tracks our performance, manages our supply chain, interfaces with the billing department and facilitates patient throughput. Can you tell I'm enthusiastic about this system?

Recapping the journey
At times that enthusiasm flagged during the implementation process. I shared our hospital's journey to EMR implementation with Outpatient Surgery readers in a 6-part series last year. There were plenty of false starts along the way (tinyurl.com/9444vdk).

After evaluating 4 different systems using an 80-question matrix, we chose the EMR system that met all the identified organizational objectives for Community Hospital Surgical Services, with its 3 surgical facilities with a total of 8 ORs and a staff of 75. Our new system is Windows-based, replacing our DOS-based system, which was cumbersome to use and didn't provide support to clinical staff or management.

Signing the contract didn't mean smooth sailing all the time. Our go-live date was pushed back more than once due to various issues, such as creating the interfacing necessary to work with our existing HIS throughout the hospital, including accounting and materials management. Quality patient care is the goal, but you can't provide that if you don't get paid for your services.

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