Data from previous conversions shows major impact on patient care
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia – September 14, 2009 - It may have seemed like an average Saturday night, but at Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center the clock ticked down to “go-live” at midnight, marking the official conversion to a comprehensive electronic medical record system. Teams of hospital staff, physicians and information technology experts spent months preparing to bring the hospital up on the Sentara eCare Health Network®. This transition marks Sentara’s fifth hospital, with Sentara CarePlex Hospital to follow in November and Sentara Obici Hospital in 2010.
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.
“This was an enormous undertaking, but we were well prepared,” explained Bob Graves, vice president and administrator of Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center. “Being number five in the line up of Sentara hospitals meant that the process was well practiced and coordinated. That is not to diminish the amount of work that went into the Sentara eCare® conversion, but we had a great model to follow.”
Hospital implementation of Sentara eCare® began in February of 2008 - first at Sentara Leigh Hospital, then at Sentara Bayside Hospital and Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. Earlier this year, Sentara Norfolk General Hospital – the system’s largest facility – came up on the Sentara eCare® platform in March of this year.
Sentara eCare’s promised benefits have quickly become reality.
With a year and a half 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 hospitals using Sentara eCare® is 85 percent or greater.
“That statistic is almost unheard of nationally – especially so quickly after implementation,” explains Bert Reese, vice president and chief information officer for Sentara Healthcare.
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.
“What we are beginning to see are the tangible benefits of this technology,” adds Beth Carlson, vice president of Patient Care Services at Sentara Williamsburg. “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 same EMR 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. This connectivity between the physician’s office and the hospital means that access to medical information flows seamlessly and allows all providers to get more complete medical information.
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 6,000 Hampton Roads patients have already signed up and are using MyChart.
Dr. Glenn Rauchwarg of Medical Center Family Physicians has been using the Sentara eCare® system and introduced MyChart to his patients about a year ago.
“Instead of me just working at a computer and speaking to patients, MyChart directly involves the patients so that we are working together on the same chart,” explains Rauchwarg. “I believe that MyChart will be a key integral component of the medical care I provide for years to come.”