A new program at Mammoth Hospital is bringing things into the 21st century. Allscripts is a program that connects across every setting in the hospital and is currently being implemented in all of the hospital’s clinics.
“Allscripts is allowing us to take information off of people’s charts and put it into the data system,” explained Mammoth Hospital’s Chief Financial Officer Melanie Van Winkle. “Doctors will be able to call a patient’s information up on a laptop rather then having to flip through paper charts that are sometimes pretty thick.”
Currently Pediatrics, General Surgery and Women’s Health are live on the program. The hospital’s remaining clinics are expected to go live in the next two to three months.
The program is not only pushing the hospital into the modern paperless era, but provides useful tools for doctors and staff. For example, doctors will be able to cross-check a patient’s record in their clinic with records from other clinics. This will help determine what medication a patient can take that won’t interfere with other medications he or she may already be taking from other clinics or departments.
The program has the capability to allow doctors to send prescriptions straight to the pharmacy so that the patient doesn’t have to walk into the pharmacy with a piece of paper in hand. It also has the capability to talk with the hospital’s billing and finance department, again removing the need for a paper document to exchange hands.
“As physicians mark things [on the electronic chart], the program automatically sets up a bill and assigns billing codes,” Van Winkle said.
“It will be more efficient and will improve the care of the patient,” she added.
As is often the case when implementing new programs, electronic or not, there is a bit of a lag time right now as hospital staff works to get all charts and information entered into the system. Some patients may experience a delay when arriving at a doctor’s appointment as they wait for their information to be processed, but Van Winkle said this would be temporary.
“There is a delay but we are being proactive,” she said, explaining that when staff has down time they are entering chart information into the system. First priorities are currently being placed on patients who visit the hospital frequently and patients who have an upcoming appointment in a clinic that is set to go live very within the next month.
“Everyone is getting familiar with a new system,” Van Winkle continued. “But in six months to a year it will be behind us.”
It’s been a transition for some of the doctors too, but Van Winkle said they can see the benefit of the program, it’s just a matter of getting used to using a mouse instead of a pen.
Instead of purchasing the program, Van Winkle said the hospital is accessing it remotely to save costs. The setup is similar to a rental.
“It would have cost $2 million for the hospital to purchase,” Van Winkle said. Instead the program is “rented” from Allscripts and its partner CHMB. By accessing Allscripts in this manner, the hospital also doesn’t have to worry about updating the program with the constant regulation changes that occur in healthcare. Allscripts takes care of that, the hospital just has to know how to implement the changes when they occur.
Through the “rental” program, Allscripts is also responsible for backing up all of the information in the database.
Van Winkle said Digital 395 would be a welcome asset, as it will speed up access to the online program.
Also on the hospital’s horizon: a new website with a patient portal.
“Patients will eventually be able to schedule appointments and pay bills online,” Van Winkle said.