Jesse Diaz, vice president and chief information officer for Phoebe Putney Health System, gives an overview of the new system at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital that will require physicians to input orders electronically. The system goes live on May 15.
ALBANY, Ga. -- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 established programs to provide incentive payments to professionals and hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid that adopt and make "meaningful use" of certified electronic health records technology.
There have been government mandates attached to this that are now coming to fruition.
After installing multiple support systems over the past six years, officials at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital say they will be activating a computerized order entry system on May 15 for inpatient care orders.
Jesse Diaz, vice president and chief information officer for Phoebe Putney Health System, said the system itself has been in place for about a year and has been utilized by nurses as well as the emergency department staff.
"What we don't have live is the physician version," Diaz said.
There will be a phase-in approach to adjusting doctors to the paper-to-electronic order lifestyle, Diaz said. There will be a group of 20 physicians introduced to this from the start.
A few weeks later, after an initial assessment is done, a group of 50 or so physicians will be phased in, and the cycle will continue until all the doctors are brought in over a 90-120 day period, Diaz said.
"All the nurses and secretaries have been trained to help physicians navigate it (as they are putting in orders)," he said.
The expectation is for a hospital to have 80 percent of its records and orders in electronic form by 2014 or else risk an impact to reimbursements, Diaz said.
"Nothing can be done without an order (from a physician), and it has always been done on paper," he said. "It is now mandated that it be electronic."
This will include everything from x-ray to medication orders. For medication orders, the electronic system will allow prescriptions to go to the pharmacy department instantaneously.
If nothing else, officials indicated that it should cut down on dosing errors.
"There will be no confusion on which doctor or what kinds of meds," Diaz said. "Interpreting handwriting will no be an issue.
"One of the reasons for the mandate is to provide consistency and clarity."
As part of this, information will go into a patient's medical records more quickly than they would in paper form, making it easier to obtain an accurate medical history in the event of an emergency.
While meant to make things more efficient, there will still be roadblocks, which makes it necessary for there to be people double-checking what is put into the system.
"We will still have checks in place," Diaz said.
The system is already live at Phoebe Sumter Medical Center. The rest of the Phoebe hospitals should be able to get online in June or July of next year, Diaz said.