First of five Samaritan hospitals to implement electronic medical record

Feb 27,2013

As part of Samaritan’s mission to provide seamless, high-quality patient care it began a process of implementing a new, system-wide electronic medical record system last year. On March 1, Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, the first of five Samaritan hospitals, will turn on the new system called Epic.

Epic is an industry leader in integrated health records and is used by many other health systems in Oregon such as Legacy Health and Oregon Health & Science University, as well as many others across the nation.

Benefits associated with the Epic electronic medical record system include:

  • Positive impact on patient safety through built-in alerts and warnings, which will prevent medication errors from potential adverse drug reactions and unsafe drug combinations Seamless flow of information by organizing care around the patient
  • Patient information is available whenever and wherever it is needed through a secure connection called Care Everywhere. Whether it’s OHSU needing to see a patient’s Samaritan record, or Samaritan needing to see OHSU’s, we will all have the ability to connect with ease
  • Multiple care providers, in different locations can simultaneously view a patient’s medical record and get up-to-the-minute information — a collaboration that enables providers to work more efficiently in determining if further consultation or testing is needed
  • Independent providers who may share patients in common with Samaritan will also have secure access to their patient’s records via Care Link
  • Contributes to high standards of quality care through real time documentation and care coordination between nurses and doctors

“While the initial driver to move to an electronic medical record was to meet the requirements and deadlines set forth by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, it is ultimately the right thing to do,” said Chief Medical Information Officer Elizabeth Lincoln. “It streamlines patient care by creating one patient chart that is viewable by all who provide medical care, helps health care providers make more informed decisions because lab results are not sitting in a paper chart, they are available in the patient’s digital chart, which is accessible within minutes no matter where you are.”

The timing of the implementation is structured to take advantage of stimulus funds for electronic medical record implementation, versus facing monetary penalties in the form of reduced Medicare reimbursements beginning in 2015.

Shortly after Good Sam is up and running with Epic, the remaining Samaritan hospitals will follow with Samaritan Albany General Hospital on May 1 and Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital, Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital and Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital all going live together on June 24. Samaritan’s outpatient clinics adopted Epic’s practice management software for scheduling and billing on March 1, coinciding with Good Sam’s go-live and will implement the electronic medical record component in the summer of 2014.

Many hours of advance training was received by all who will use the system to ensure familiarity and competence. In some cases, longer wait times can be expected as staff begins using the new electronic medical record when admitting patients and at the bedside.

“As with any new system, there will be a learning curve for hospital and clinic staff, but the benefits to patients are so significant that this became a logical step for the organization,” said Good Sam CEO Steve Jasperson. “We are looking forward to the increasingly coordinated care we will be able to provide using this system.”