The Sisters of Mercy Health System is among an elite group of hospitals nationwide with the capability to safely connect electronic medical data across health care sites and even state lines. In fact, Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), a global leader in health care technology, recently designated Mercy a stage six of a seven-stage process, joining the ranks of health care leaders such as Johns Hopkins and Mayo Clinic.
“We are among 2.6 percent of hospitals nationwide who have an integrated electronic medical record (EMR) sophisticated enough to allow us to access and share medical records among multiple Mercy facilities in a four-state area,” said Will Showalter, Mercy’s chief information officer. “This level of technology connects all the dots and ultimately means greater safety in patient care.”
Besides a higher level of safety, patients now have access to “MyMercy” – a tool that gives Mercy patients the ability to view portions of their own medical record, make medical appointments and refill prescriptions all online.
“It’s a given today that most of us do our banking, schedule trips and pay our bills online but when it comes to making a doctor’s appointment or refilling a prescription, it’s almost unheard of,” said Glenn Mitchell, M.D., Mercy’s chief medical officer. “MyMercy gives our patients the tools to actually track their health without a visit or call to the doctor’s office. It makes it easier for patients to stay on top of their health and their family’s health.”
Stage seven is the highest EMR designation given by HIMSS and Mercy is pursuing it now. This stage requires that a health care organization be able to exchange medical information with other hospitals or medical facilities, as well as ensure that physicians can enter patient information. By this fall, Mercy expects to have the capability to share information with other hospitals and medical facilities, and currently Mercy is approaching 75 percent for physician order entry with an HIMSS goal of 80 percent.
“We are a few steps from being among only 10 hospital groups in the nation with a stage seven designation – the pinnacle in connectivity,” said Showalter. “And of all the hospitals across the nation, Mercy is virtually alone in our ability to share data across state lines. Mercy is a national leader in finding innovative ways to provide better health care.”
Beginning in 2005, Mercy began charting plans for an EMR and invested $450 million in the project. Besides reducing the chance of medical errors, integrated EMR’s also provide:
- More reliable lab and x-ray results with a quicker turn-around
- Less chance of duplicating expensive imaging and other tests
- Drug interaction alerts
- Legible physician and nurse notes – no more guesswork with handwriting
Ability for multiple medical personnel to access a patient’s chart simultaneously