||Research News: Integrated Electronic Medical Records Help One Health Care Team Provide Better Care
Debra: Is your patient allergic to anything? Do they have any
pre-existing conditions? Did they have any recent surgeries? These are critical
questions that clinicians in emergency departments face every day, all too often
without the benefit of a patient’s medical record or full medical history.
That’s why the Mount Ascutney Healthcare Consortium in Vermont says integrated
electronic medical records - ones that store and share patient information among
groups of authorized providers - can improve health care delivery and save
lives. Here to talk to us about the technology is Mr. Glenn Thornton of the
Mount Ascutney Healthcare Consortium. Welcome, Mr. Thornton.
Mr. Thornton: Thank you.
Debra: The consortium had already been using electronic medical records
but saw the need to develop an integrated system. Tell us why.
Mr. Thornton: The problem with our old system was that doctors spent too
much time looking for information on their patients. Information on a single
patient was spread out, as there was no single location where a doctor could
just pull up all the information he or she needed on a patient. For example, a
doctor might have to call a lab to get test results, or they might have to
search for a paper chart. The new system solves that problem.
Debra: How does the new system work?
Mr. Thornton: The doctor logs into a Web site, which was designed by
Orion Health and our organization, performs a patient search, selects a patient,
which then pulls the patient’s chart instantly. The electronic chart includes
lab test results, a detailed medical history, and, in some cases, digitized
radiology images. The new electronic system saves time and gives the doctor more
complete information, and in some cases, that could mean the difference between
life and death.
Debra: Can you give us an example?
Mr. Thornton: Well say a patient comes into the emergency room
complaining of a chest pain. Under the old system, the emergency room doctor
might not see the results of an electrocardiogram performed the week before. But
using the new integrated system, the doctor can see the test results because the
EKG was scanned into a central repository, and start appropriate treatment right
Debra: Does the system also help clinicians provide better care for
patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or asthma?
Mr. Thornton: Well let’s use a diabetic patient as an example. The
updated system contains all of the patient lab results, which allows the
provider to run a trend analysis graph for any given time period on any one or
more of the discrete data elements, such as Glucose and HbA1C’s, and allows them
to print out a graph to share with the patient, and in this way, the updated
system makes it easier for doctors to track the progress of a person with
Debra: Mr. Thornton, thank you for joining us today to talk about the
integrated medical records system.
Mr. Thornton: My pleasure.
Debra: For more information about this project and others, visit
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