Sentara eCare® Launch Coming to System's Largest Hospital
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Sentara eCare® Launch Coming to System's Largest Hospital 

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Data from previous conversions shows major impact on patient care

NORFOLK, Virginia- March 23, 2009 - The clock is ticking down to “go-live” at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. Teams of hospital staff, physicians and information technology experts are preparing to bring the system’s largest hospital up on its electronic medical record system, the Sentara eCare®Health Network. As part of the training and preparation dubbed the ‘E-mazing Race,’ staff have spent months preparing for the transition at one minute past midnight on March 28.

Sentara eCare® is an electronic medical record system that allows for the secure sharing of patient information across physical boundaries – including hospitals, physician offices, diagnostic centers and patients’ homes. Sentara decided in 2005 to invest more than $230 million into this effort and has been working steadily to bring its physicians, hospitals and patients onto this new technology platform.

“Going live” means the end of paper medical records. To prepare, nursing units are outfitted with additional computers – some fixed and some mobile - and all staff and physicians working within the facility are trained on how to access the record and make notes within the new electronic format.

“We are feeling good about our level of preparation,” explains Jennifer Burrows, BSN, MBA, vice president of patient care services at the 550-bed Sentara Norfolk General Hospital. “This is an enormous undertaking.”

Hospital implementation of Sentara eCare began last year - first at Sentara Leigh Hospital, then at Sentara Bayside Hospital followed by Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. The decision to place its largest hospital fourth in the line up was not without purpose.

“With each hospital that comes up on Sentara eCare, we expand the pool of trained staff to help support the next implementation,” explains Bert Reese, vice president and chief information officer for Sentara Healthcare. “Our largest hospital requires a fair amount of support from sister hospitals within the system as staff are trained and the hospital goes live on Sentara eCare.”

At Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, there were about 4,000 employees and 450 physicians required to undergo training at varying levels.

Sentara eCare’s promised benefits have quickly become reality.
In its first year of full hospital implementation, Sentara eCare has proved a significant benefit to patient care.

Perhaps the most notable measurement in the success of electronic medical record adoption is the rate at which physicians enter their own orders, known as computerized physician order entry. By entering orders directly into the record, there is less chance for confusion in handwriting interpretation and built-in system alerts can draw immediate physician attention to potential problems. National statistics vary on the percentage of physicians entering their own orders, but the stretch goal for Sentara Leigh Hospital in its first year was 80 percent. Remarkably, the actual percentage for all three hospitals using Sentara eCare is 85 percent.

“That statistic is almost unheard of nationally – especially so quickly after implementation,” adds Reese.

For patients, Sentara eCare has resulted in more timely and accurate care.

Prior to implementing Sentara eCare, hospitals across the system averaged a time of about 132 minutes between a drug being ordered and a drug being given to the patient. Just months after Sentara eCare®, that average shrank to 35 minutes at Sentara Leigh Hospital; 27 minutes at Sentara Bayside Hospital; and 42 minutes at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.

“We are beginning to see are the tangible benefits of this technology,” adds Reese. “Countless stories speak to the benefits and to see the data reinforce those messages means that we are making a real difference for patient care.”

Sentara eCare reaches beyond the hospital – connecting the community.
Along with hospital roll out of Sentara eCare, Sentara introduced the technology to 160 physicians last year. Another 150 will be added in 2009. Now a patient’s Sentara Medical Group physician is working from the same medical record that the specialist or emergency physician accesses in the hospital.

Yet another functionality of Sentara eCare is the ability of patients themselves to serve as an active participant through the MyChart portal. MyChart allows patients the ability to view test results, schedule appointments, refill prescriptions, ask questions and find trusted sources of health information. Over 1,100 Hampton Roads patients have already signed up and are using MyChart.

“I routinely ask people who have already transitioned to Sentara eCare if they would ever go back and the answer is consistent,” says Reese. “They always tell me there is no way they would go back!”


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