A bright prognosis for EMRs

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Joslin handles ambulatory care, while the hospital handles care when a patient is bedridden or otherwise needs more involved healthcare.

Records are exchanged between Beth Israel Deaconess and Joslin via a network connection every hour. When exchanging records between the hospital and the diabetes center, or with other Joslin facilities, those who have had access to paper records also have the ability to access the electronic records, Calway says. Other healthcare providers use similar authorization strategies.

More comprehensive medical record and sharing strategies will evolve as regional medical record information centers continue to evolve. A few of those systems, which handle medical records on a regional basis, provide advantages when a
patient needs to be referred from one healthcare system to another, according to Coomes.

The quantity of medical records and the types of data that those systems handle will continue to grow as the technology evolves. The Joslin Diabetes Center, for example, is looking to add a voice recognition system to the enterprise, which would mean the records system would store files of authorized users (i.e., a doctor calling in to access or update customer
information), Calway says.

Preventive care

As more healthcare providers adopt electronic medical records systems, the technology becomes a more critical aspect of patient care, meaning that preventing system crashes or delays becomes more critical.

Chicago-based Allscripts provides electronic health records, document imaging and e-prescribing technologies for more than 30,000 physicians and more than 3,500 healthcare facilities across the country. Because their records were in the Allscripts system, doctors would turn to the company for technical support, even when a technical problem had nothing to do with the company’s technology, according to John Nebergall, senior VP of client support.

“This is very important to us as a company,” says Nebergall. “The perception of the customer is that every outage is a software outage, even if our software had nothing to do with it. [Maintaining uptime] is very important for our reputation as a company.”

So Allscripts in 2006 added SupportOne service, from NextNine (nextnine.com), which includes the installation of NextNine’s Virtual Support Engineer at every customer site to monitor system activity like memory usage, storage space, CPU and print queues.

Within the first 90 days of deploying the NextNine technology, 50 incidents of downtime were prevented. After initial deployment of SupportOne to the customer base, Allscripts lowered its support incident rates by as much as 25 percent, according to Nebergall.

He expects Allscripts to continue to improve its proactive response to customer technical issues in the future because the software “learns” from previous incidents to help recognize those in the future.

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