Rather than thumbing through a folder filled with paper records, staff and physicians in Centerville will soon be clicking into a computer to record patients’ medical information.
Mercy Medical Clinic – Centerville Director Brenda Hostetler and the Mercy clinic physicians and staff are just weeks away from a major shift in how they document patient care. The change to electronic health records is an important step in Mercy’s and Catholic Health Initiatives’ plan to implement a common electronic record for patients.
On Dec. 5, the Ambulatory Electronic Health Record system goes in for staff and physicians to document a patient’s care electronically. Des Moines’ Mercy clinics were the first clinics in CHI nationwide to implement the AEHR and most of them have been working in the system for a minimum of six months; some are well into their second year.
The AEHR makes patient information instantly accessible to every provider and clinician in Mercy Clinics who is involved in a patient’s care — from clinic to hospital, lab and pharmacy. Centerville physicians on the system also will be able to electronically collaborate with their Mercy – Des Moines colleagues when a patient is referred to Des Moines.
According to Hostetler they are very excited to enter this next phase of patient care with Ambulatory Electronic Health Records.
“We know that having immediate access to patients’ records will not only improve their overall quality of care — but also allow our providers to spend more time with our clientele. Patients’ can feel confident that their health information will always be up to date; knowing that their complete hospital and physician clinical notes are now all in one place,” she stated.
Both staff members and physicians will receive up to 16 hours of training to learn the electronic health record system. Hostetler did acknowledge that they are allowing more time in physician schedules to accommodate the training period.“There may be some inconvenience to patients during the initial weeks of the transition, so we hope everyone can bear with us. I’m confident that in the long run, patients will be better served,“ she added.
“There’s definitely a learning curve that everyone has to go through, and everyone makes the transition at a different pace.” says Ben Gaumer, D.O., the Iowa regional chief medical informatics officer, who is based at Mercy in Des Moines. He says physicians in Des Moines, Nebraska and Kentucky, where the AEHR is now operating, are adapting well to using the AEHR system. “Generally, we’re seeing that by about the third or fourth week, most are able to master using the system.”
In November the clinic switched to an electronic physician practice management system that computerized all patient billing and insurance information. Mercy – Centerville Clinic was the first among the 60 Mercy clinics to institute the electronic practice management system.