Hot Springs Village goes live on Mercy EHR

January 7, 2011

St. Joseph’s Mercy’s electronic health record will be available in Hot Springs Village on Jan. 12. The multi-year, multi-million dollar project has made Mercy part of the 2.6 percent of health-care facilities nationwide with a fully-integrated electronic health record.

Mercy facilities in Hot Springs Village at Mercy Medical Building (4419 Hwy. 7 North), Mercy Medical Clinic (903 DeSoto Blvd.) and Mercy Express Care Clinic (5010 Hwy. 7 North) will have access.

“Mercy is advancing to a very technical level of maintaining a patient’s medical record through this electronic format where the patient’s record is real-time and follows the patient from the clinic to the hospital and back,” said St. Joseph’s Mercy President Tim Johnsen. “While very technically savvy though, it’s user-friendly and has an incredible application for the patients to use as well. It’s a very secure network and one of the most advanced systems in the nation.”

St. Joseph’s Mercy will host a community forum at 2 p.m. on Thursday, January 20, at Christ of the Hills Church in Hot Springs Village. Mercy experts will be on hand to explain the system and answer questions. At this event, Mercy will offer free PVD screenings and blood pressure screenings. The PVD screenings are available to the first 20 people who register at (501) 622-1848. There will also be refreshments and a drawing for door prizes.

The seminar will also feature information on MyMercy, the patient portal that will be available from St. Joseph’s Mercy in March. More than 60,000 people in four states have already signed up for MyMercy, giving them access to their personal health record via computer or smart phones.

Mercy is also scheduled to open its imaging center in the Mercy Medical Building on April 1.

St. Joseph’s Mercy Health Center in Hot Springs began using the electronic health record on Sept. 26. The Mercy electronic health record is also available in Fort Smith, Rogers, St. Louis, Springfield, Mo., Oklahoma City, Okla., and other locations throughout Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

“We’ve been using it in the hospital for about four months now and it has proven to be an exceptional system,” Johnsen said. “I am confident that Mercy patients in Hot Springs Village will take to it well and see the benefits immediately”.

This was an expensive investment in terms of financial and human resources. The Sisters of Mercy Health System has invested $450 million in a process that began more than four years ago. More than 23,000 employees throughout Mercy have been trained on the electronic health record, including 2,300 at St. Joseph’s Mercy.

Mercy was able to customize the electronic health record to meet the needs of the physicians and nurses.

This means that patients will be able to go to any Mercy facility, including Hot Springs, Fort Smith and Rogers, and their provider will be able to see their current medical record. Dr. Douglas Ross of Mercy’s Emergency Department, said patients, nurses and physicians are already seeing immediate benefits from the electronic health record.

“When you come to our Mercy facilities, whatever environment you take part in, that health record is going to follow you wherever you go,” he said.

The effects on physicians, nurses and patients will be immediate:

  • One patient, one record – There will be a single, complete and continuously updated electronic health record for each patient with medical history, physician information, hospital and Emergency Department visits, medications, allergies, immunization records, and lab and test results.
  • Enhanced safety – There will be no more jotting something down. Everything will be entered into the computer, which will have automatic alerts built in. This prevents negative drug interactions or allergic reactions.
  • The right hands at the right time – There will no longer be illegible handwriting. These complete records will be immediately available to the health care provider.

Electronic health records are a major part of the Health Care Reform Act. Beginning in 2015, hospitals and physician offices will be subject to financial penalties under Medicare if they don’t have electronic health records in place

“For the most part, physicians have been practicing in the paper world for the last 30-plus years,” Ross said. “It’s a very significant undertaking to have physicians change their day-to-day activities. Now they will not be searching for charts, trying to read handwriting. Everything they need will be on the computer.”

There are also safeguards built into the electronic health record to assist in preventing mistakes.

“If you inadvertently hit the wrong dose of a drug, there’s a hard stop in the computer system. That’s been developed by Mercy physicians and nurses,” Johnsen said.

Information is stored at the recently-completed Mercy Data Center in Washington, Mo. The $60 million facility is built to withstand an F2 tornado and has safeguards in place to prevent power outages.

There are also privacy safeguards in place. Records are only available to co-workers who need access to them and passwords are changed frequently.

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