New health records program more efficient
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
December 18, 2012
Patients will be able to access their medical records online using new software purchased by Jackson’s hospital.
St. John’s Medical Center trustees decided Monday to spend $240,000 on an electronic health records system, eClinical Works, that also makes it easier for doctors to record information from their sessions with patients.
Practice Partner, the software now used by the hospital’s clinics, is slow and difficult to navigate, staff say.
“We’ve had [Practice Partner] for about five years, and frankly it’s just not getting the job done,” St. John’s Chief Operating Officer Gary Trauner said. “EClinical Works does in theory many of the same things that Practice Partner was supposed to do. And it’s much more user-friendly.”
Physicians at St. John’s clinics agree.
“We were having challenges with the documentation process, and being able to officially document visits with the old software,” said Dr. Jim Little Jr., medical director at St. John’s Family Health and Urgent Care Clinic.
Patients will be able to view lab results, request prescription refills and make appointments online — things they couldn’t do with the old software.
Doctors in Jackson Hole can also be connected through the program.
“We hope that it will spread out to physicians in the community,” Trauner said. “We have a license for this. They’ll be able to get it for a fraction of the cost.”
Some doctors worried that the system would allow the hospital to access the financial records of their private practices, Dr. Martin Trott, an ear, nose and throat physician with the hospital, said at the board meeting. But firewalls will prevent St. John’s from reaching into independent providers’ data, he said.
The software’s maintenance costs are slightly higher, but hospital administrators expect to save up to $250,000 over the next five years from increased efficiency, Trauner said.
The new system should be running by next summer, he said.