Health IT

Summa Western Reserve Hospital adopts paperless patient records

Summa Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls recently ditched its paper charts in favor of a completely computerized system for patient care and billing.
The project — known as CARE One, or Connecting Across the Reserve Electronically — involved …

AKRON – Summa Western Reserve Hospital in Cuyahoga Falls recently ditched its paper charts in favor of a completely computerized system for patient care and billing.

The project — known as CARE One, or Connecting Across the Reserve Electronically — involved nearly all of the hospital’s 855 employees, Pam Banchy, Western Reserve’s chief information officer, said in an interview on Monday.

The entire hospital and its outpatient locations went live last month with the electronic medical records system from McKesson, Banchy said.

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“Our patients received a totally new care delivery process overnight,” she said. “There’s more efficiency in the exchange of information. The processing is automatic.”

With the new system, she said, every patient now receives a wristband with a unique barcode that is scanned before tests or medication administration.

Physicians use laptops, computers on wheels or hand-held devices that are available throughout the facilities to electronically enter orders for patient care, Banchy said. The system makes information such as drug interaction or allergies immediately available to the doctors.

Nurses also use workstations on wheels to electronically enter patients’ chart information, she said.

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“We’ve started to realize some of the benefits in a short time,” she said.

Western Reserve invested several million dollars in the system.

“It’s one of the most expensive commitments we’ve made to the organization, focusing on the patients’ safety,” she said.

Hospitals can receive millions of dollars in federal incentives for meeting initial goals for adopting computerized health records. The incentives were established in 2009 by the federal stimulus bill to encourage the adoption of electronic health records.

To qualify for the payments through Medicare and Medicaid, hospitals and doctors must attest that they have installed and started using a certified system.

The first of three stages of “meaningful use” standards include the ability to enter doctors’ orders electronically and provide automatic feedback about possible dosing errors and other safety concerns.

Qualifying systems also must check for drug interaction, track patient demographics, record vital signs and other patient information, capture and report communicable diseases to public health agencies and perform other functions.

Western Reserve plans to begin the process of proving the hospital meets those requirements this summer, Banchy said.

Other hospitals in the Akron area — including Summa Akron City and St. Thomas hospitals, Akron General Medical Center and Akron Children’s Hospital — also have converted to electronic patient records in recent years.

Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or [email protected]. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell. ___