Emory Finishes First Phase
of Data Entry Integration in Project to Implement Electronic Medical
ATLANTA -- Emory Healthcare has reached the first important milestone
in a multi-year, multi-million-dollar project to achieve a system-wide,
paper-free electronic medical record. The adoption of electronic medical
records is a key goal for many of the country's largest hospitals and
health systems in the quest to increase quality of care, lower the incidence
of medical errors, improve patient and provider satisfaction, and adopt
standardized decision support and treatment pathways based on the medical
Emory Healthcare began developing
the infrastructure for the electronic medical record in 1992. For the
past several years, both inpatient and outpatient records have been
entered, stored and retrieved electronically from the same underlying,
secure database, said Dedra Cantrell, RN, chief information officer
for Emory Healthcare. Now, all new patients are being assigned a unique
identifier that will eliminate the need to re-enter the same information
repetitively in different care settings. She said Emory believes it
is the first large hospital system in the Atlanta area to achieve this
degree of data integration for both inpatients and outpatients.
This system embraces patient
data for Emory University Hospital, Emory Crawford Long Hospital, The
Emory Clinic, the Wesley Woods Center and will include the Emory Children's
Center, amounting to about 40,400 inpatient admissions and 1.1 million
outpatient visits a year.
The achievement of this important
milestone means that Emory Healthcare is on target to implement system-wide
computer-based physician order entry by December 2004, said William
A. Bornstein, MD, PhD, chief quality/medical officer for Emory Hospitals
and medical director of information services for Emory Healthcare. Computer-based
physician order entry (CPOE) has been advocated by healthcare quality
improvement organizations such as The Leapfrog Group (www.leapfroggroup.org)
which see it as a key step in minimizing errors. Not only does CPOE
eliminate imprecise and incomplete communication between doctors, nurses,
and pharmacists, but it also provides real-time clinical decision support,
which helps to reduce adverse drug events and other errors. Dr. Bornstein
is an advisor to The Leapfrog Group.
"The Emory Electronic Medical
Record system, which will include CPOE, and full outpatient and inpatient
care systems, will allow us to capture real clinical data in the process
of care. We will be able to feed this clinical data into a common database
that will allow us to do very robust analysis and reporting from a research
and patient outcomes perspective," said Dr. Bornstein. "In this way,
continual performance improvement and quality assurance will be built
into the cycle of care."
He noted that another important
feature of this system will be the seamless capture and documentation
of insurance and other administrative information, which increasingly
occupies a great deal of doctors' and nurses' time. "Rather than technology
interfering with the high-touch aspects of health care, we think technology
will actually enhance it, by off-loading multiple documentation requirements,
managed care formularies, all those things that can interfere with the
personal aspects of a patient encounter," he said.
Emory has been working as
a development partner with the Cerner Corporation since 1992 to implement
an electronic patient record system called PowerChart, and the EMR initiative
builds on that long experience base, Bornstein said.
The end of all paper patient
records at Emory in both the inpatient and outpatient setting will be
an important milestone of what is projected as a $27 million program,
launched in July 2002 and ending sometime in 2012.
"This is not about going
electronic for the sake of going electronic, this is not about automating
the paper medical record," said Ms. Cantrell. "Although a byproduct
will be elimination of the paper medical record, this initiative is
really all about transforming care at Emory."