Six months after launching its hospital electronic health record in Tyler, the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System continues to use technology to coordinate local healthcare, while helping providers improve the quality of care throughout the region.
"The implementation of an electronic health record in our hospital system is truly transformational," said Paula Anthony, ETMC vice president and chief information officer. "Everyone benefits; physicians and clinical caregivers have access to the information and tools they need to manage patient care like never before." The web-based technology that drives OneChart allows physicians to access their patients' records anytime, anywhere. Soon, OneChart will offer a patient portal giving patients unprecedented access to their own health information - from any web browser.
For the past three years, ETMC physician clinics have been integrated through a common electronic health record. In March 2012 ETMC Tyler launched OneChart, based on the nationally renowned Siemens Soarian platform, to create a paperless, fully integrated electronic health record for hospital patients. The OneChart system is now being implemented in the 15 ETMC hospitals throughout the region with ETMC Pittsburg coming on-line last month.
According to Anthony, the ETMC approach to electronic health records mirrors the approach of the overall ETMC healthcare system: "Our mission is to improve the quality of life in our region. Therefore, we understand that our electronic health information systems must be open and able to communicate with providers throughout East Texas."
She said that's why ETMC has actively sought and successfully achieved another important regional information technology distinction: being one of only 13 grant recipients charged by the state of Texas with the responsibility for developing a regional health information exchange. Known as FirstNet Exchange, this system will provide the means for all healthcare providers - both within ETMC, those who are affiliated with other hospitals and those who are completely independent - to access appropriate healthcare information to improve coordination of medical care in our region and eventually our state and nation, Anthony explained. So far, more than 700 physicians and nearly 30 hospitals across the region have signed letters of interest with FirstNet Exchange.
"Of course, while all this technology is impressive and holds tremendous promise, we realize that it's meaningless unless it helps people." Anthony said, offering an anecdote to illustrate the impact of ETMC OneChart:
"Shortly after the launch of OneChart, a patient arrived at ETMC Pittsburg suffering from an apparent stroke. The family remembered that the patient had been at ETMC Tyler within the past month but couldn't remember the doctor's name or the details of that admission. Within seconds, the Pittsburg emergency department doctors had access to the patient's record from Tyler - everything, lab work, scans, progress notes, everything."
The sharing of data across ETMC hospitals - and eventually across all medical providers in the region, nation and state - is vital, according to Anthony. "Healthcare is not a static process; people move from place to place as their healthcare needs and life situations change. ETMC is offering an open system and is committed to working with different providers and information platforms to share data in a safe and secure manner. We believe this type of inclusive philosophy puts the needs of the patient first."
And while the electronic health record allows data to be shared, the benefits of the system don't stop there. According to Anthony, ETMC OneChart actively assists caregivers throughout the diagnostic and treatment process by monitoring patient care and providing alerts and suggestions when appropriate.
"For example, the system has a five-way check system to ensure that patients are given the right medication at the right time, " she explained. "It also suggests tests and medications for the doctor to review and alerts caregivers to patient allergies or drug interactions."
Anthony said over the past six months since the implementation of ETMC OneChart, physicians and the clinical staff at ETMC Tyler have come to view the electronic health record as a valuable partner assisting in the coordination of care.
"It's an exciting time in healthcare as we harness this incredibly sophisticated technology to improve coordination of care," Anthony said. "While these systems represent a huge leap forward, they're really just another way we foster regional healthcare excellence - something we've been working to do for more than 60 years."