What? Blue Hill Memorial Hospital is implementing electronic medical records in its physician practices in Blue Hill, Bucksport, Castine, and Stonington. Each patient will have an electronic medical record, rather than a paper chart. Charts will contain a patient’s laboratory results, other test results, images (such as CT scans and mammograms), medication log, family history, and more. Translating lengthy, complex paper records into electronic format is an enormous undertaking.
Why? The transition to electronic medical records is part of our commitment to clinical transformation – undertaken to create a safer and more convenient environment of care for our patients. Electronic medical records reduce the likelihood of medication-related problems and help providers ensure that appropriate screenings take place. We want to provide a “home” for our patients’ medical care that will eventually empower them to “own” their healthcare and wellness. Eventually patients will be able to reach our practices through electronic portals, where they can request prescription renewals, make appointments, view test results, and much more. Completion of this project will also position Blue Hill Memorial Hospital to receive favorable reimbursement from federal sources, such as Medicare. Failure to achieve “meaningful use” of electronic records within our primary care practices will have a negative effect that we cannot afford.
When? The EMR project is well underway in our physician practices. Blue Hill Women's Health Care, Bucksport Family Medicine, Castine Community Health Services, and Island Family Medicine are already using electronic medical records. Our largest practice, Blue Hill Family Medicine, will begin using EMR in November of 2010.
Who? Roberta Gildart serves as the Clinical Applications Manager of this project. She can answer questions about the overall project, while practice-specific questions are best addressed by practice managers at our clinics. Deborah Turner, VP Physician Practices, is providing executive leadership for the project. The EMR project will eventually impact our entire hospital and every patient who is served through our primary care practices. We are very grateful to our EMHS colleagues who are providing support throughout this project, based on best practices developed elsewhere within the system.
How Much? This project will cost $1,000,000. Generous donors are helping to make the project possible. Project costs include software licenses; servers, laptops, and other equipment, and consulting time from our EMHS colleagues.
What will EMR mean to me as a patient? Many of us are familiar with the phrase “no pain, no gain” that apples to personal fitness. The EMR implementation will involve some temporary inconveniences for our patients. Some patients, for example, may need to wait longer for an appointment while staff are being trained to use the technology effectively. We regret this inconvenience, but promise that the “gains” will make it all worthwhile. When the implementation is complete, providers will be able to focus more on our patients’ needs, rather than trying to track down lab and other test results, medication history, and more.