Norfolk, Va. September 22, 2005 - Imagine being able to schedule your next doctors appointment or communicate with your doctor through your home PC. Imagine getting access to diagnostic test results through a secure connection in the comfort of your home or office.
These are just some of the capabilities being promised through the latest Sentara Healthcare initiative Sentara eCare.
Sentara eCare Health Network is a comprehensive electronic medical record (EMR) system, linking clinical information with scheduling, billing and registration data over a secure network. This technology initiative will allow the secure sharing of patient information across physical boundaries including hospitals, physician offices, diagnostic centers and patients homes.
Sentara leaders and clinicians say the Sentara eCare Health Network will not only continue the organizations work toward advancing the quality of care for patients, but it will support caregivers by alleviating paperwork and enhancing information sharing.
Doctors and nurses using Sentara eCare will have real-time access to their patients medical information online in the exam room. They'll know about patients current and past medical conditions, the drugs theyre taking, their allergies and be able to order procedures, prescriptions, and referrals to specialists right there in the exam room.
"Our Sentara eCare Health Network initiative continues the progress were making in implementing proven, secure systems to improve care in all of the communities we serve," said David Bernd, President and Chief Executive Officer for Sentara Healthcare. "We've lead the way in implementing patient safety technologies, and now were stepping up our long-time efforts to give nurses, technicians, physicians and other professionals the proven systems they need to support the critical work they do each and every day."
Specifically, Sentara's plan to implement the Sentara eCare Health Network calls for support in standardization of quality care and patient satisfaction practices; improvement in workplace efficiency; improved management of the patient population and its data, including the secure sharing of patient records with qualified personnel across Sentara-affiliated facilities; and adoption of new critical technologies to lead the industry in patient safety.
"In committing to this initiative, our goal was to stabilize our organizations information technology funding to ensure long-term investments in technology upgrades that improve care," said Sentara Vice President of Information Technology, Bert Reese. Patients rightfully expect advanced, quality care when they enter a hospital, care center or physicians office, and a strong foundation in information technology is vital to meeting or exceeding those expectations.
Involving community-based physicians, those in and out of the Sentara Medical Group network is a major focus for this initiative. Sentara expects to implement the EMR throughout its Sentara Medical Group and other physician offices first while simultaneously making the EMR technology available within its six hospitals over the next five years.
As part of the Sentara eCare project, Sentara is also working to install systems that would support the electronic transmission of prescriptions to local pharmacies and increase the safe delivery of medications to patients by eliminating errors due to handwriting legibility issues.
Yet another key component of the system will allow patients to access their own secure medical records from home. This feature will benefit thousands of patients by facilitating patient education and thereby enhancing patient-physician communications.
"Health care information technology is a dynamic field that can change almost daily," said Reese. "We owe it to our patients and the special people who care for our patients to continually research new systems and provide advancements that we know can improve clinical quality and/or better manage the information used in providing care."
This Sentara eCare Health Network investment is the next step in Sentaras comprehensive, long-time information technology plan that previously has allowed the organization to develop a solid technology infrastructure that can support the demands of intense patient-care and diagnostic systems.
In total, Sentara will invest $240 million over the next ten years in advanced information technology systems that will support its clinicians in administering care and help improve patient outcomes. Sentara eCare Health Network, a multimillion-dollar investment, represents the single largest technology initiative the Sentara Board of Directors has approved to date.
Sentara has been a leader in moving the health care industry toward quicker adoption of technologies that will improve operations, reduce healthcare costs and help save lives, added Bernd.
Long focused on the use of technology to improve care, Sentara has been an early adopter of technologies designed to improve patient outcomes. Sentara was the first system in the country to pioneer the eICU a technology-based monitoring system proven to save lives.
For the sixth consecutive year, Sentara Healthcare has been named one of the 100 Most Wired Health Systems in the nation and CIO magazine, a leading publication in the information technology industry, has recognized Sentara Healthcare with its CIO-100 Award.