December 7, 2012

Maine medical records going high-tech

For the 1.5 million patients in Maine Med's index, the Internet-accessible system will centralize their health-care history.

By Kelley Bouchard kbouchard@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

April Hothersall, an oncology charge nurse, is now working with a new, fully integrated electronic medical record system being implemented at MaineHealth and Maine Medical Center.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

The growing use of electronic medical records has raised concern about patients' confidentiality. Horwitch said he isn't worried about it, after fighting a chronic illness for 12 years.

"They know more about me here than I do," he said.

Maine Med staff members said the new system went online this week with few glitches as nurses and other hospital employees accessed each patient's records right in their rooms.

Many of Maine Med's 6,000 employees received several days of training to use the new system, including standard confidentiality requirements, said Deborah Linscott, a nursing director.

"There's a learning curve," Linscott said. "It will be a real time saver as they learn to make the program work for them."

April Hothersall, an oncology charge nurse, said the new system reduces the chance of errors and redundancy in medical care. Notes on patients' care are printed rather than handwritten, she said, and patient information flags potential drug allergies or interactions.

The new system also eliminates paperwork in the operating room, said Dr. James Flowerdew, an anesthesiologist with Spectrum Medical Group in South Portland.

In the past, a patient's heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs had to charted on paper every five minutes, Flowerdew said.

"Now, the system is pulling all of the information from our anesthesia machines and vital-sign monitors and we're electronically documenting all of the meds we're giving," Flowerdew said. "It's going to make our work easier and improve care for patients."

And if the electronic health records system goes down, as computer systems sometimes do?

"These really are just recording machines," Flowerdew said. "They're not providing patient care. If the system goes down, we know how to do the charts."

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

kbouchard@pressherald.com

 

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