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Epic: Electronic Health Records: July 07, 2011

It’s an epic undertaking: the first step toward paperless records. Everything under the Lee Memorial Health System umbrella is being streamlined into one data base.

“This is a next generation, more capable, electronic record and it also is one that will allow the very same electronic record to be used across different care delivery settings,” says Mike Smith Chief Information Officer with Lee Memorial Health System.

Gulf Coast Medical Center is the first of four hospitals to go live with electronic health records. Outpatient centers will be added in the coming months.

By the time it’s all said and done, between 8 to 10 thousand computers will be tied into the same system, speaking the same language, following patients wherever they go.

“You may have had a test, an important test result from the last encounter you may have had allergies presented from the encounter before that and that summary for multiple encounters for multiple locations the physician sees all relevant information,” says Smith.

As the Epic system goes system wide it will create more accurate health records.

“They get a better snapshot of the patient,” says Betsy Groendy, ICU Educator with Lee Memorial Health System.

“So we can do chart reviews so that we can look up any previous visits that they had.”

Betsy is a system “super user” she’s helping her peers get up to speed.

“We are also able to chart real-time so that the information that we are giving to the physicians is up-to-date and clinical decisions are based on the information that we're inputting into the computer system.”

“There are already incidences where that seamless record has made a difference in the care delivery for patients that present at one or more of those settings,” says Smith.

Putting stock in computers rather than paper requires hefty support, and backup.