by Mary Rains
Electronic medical records are already a reality in the hospital and the emergency room at Mille Lacs Health System, and Centricity is the program that will launch the clinic side of electronic medical records.
Amy Ninham, MLHS clinical analyst, says, “The IT team, providers and clinic staff, are currently working on the interface between the hospital electronic medical record and Centricity. Eventually both systems will have interoperability and the end result for the patient will be a closed loop of care.”
Ninham explains that this will be a much more thorough visit for patients, who will get a summary of their clinical visit. It all helps to provide continuity of care. Both the hospital and clinic side will have access to the results of patients’ tests and medical history.
The implementation planning will be rolled out in phases, with the first phase occurring in November of 2013.
Dr. Cathy Donovan, MLHS Clinic Medical Director, says that in November phone messages from patients and other staff will be documented using this system and will be used to refill medications. “It will be very important that patients contact their pharmacy directly so that the request can be automatically entered into the system,” Donovan says. “This should quickly streamline a currently cumbersome process and both patients and staff should notice a faster, more accurate response.”
In January and February, clinic visits will begin to be documented in the Centricity system. Patients will notice more computer time during their visits. While this should improve accuracy, it may cause a slow- down in the clinic until all staff is fully comfortable with the new system. “We ask patients to be understanding during this time,” notes Donovan. “They may be asked questions that they feel their provider should already know the answer to and they may find longer wait times for visits. We are hopeful that this period will pass quickly. In the long run this system should improve patient access and improve the accuracy of patients’ medical records.”
It’s also important for patients and staff to remember that this transition to an electronic medical record began in 2011 as a government regualtion. “We all need to work together to make the transition as easy as possible,” Donovan says.