At SSM Health Care, the conversion from paper charts to electronic health records means even safer, more efficient and higher quality of care for the 1.4 million patients we see each year. With each go-live, SSM finds itself in rare company. According to HIMSS Analytics, a national research firm in healthcare information technology, only 0.08% of U.S. hospitals are using EHR at the level SSM Health Care is.
SSMs conversion to an EHR is called Project Beacon and is a unique partnership between SSM Integrated Health Technologies and the healthcare systems clinicians. Thousands of SSM clinicians had input into Project Beacon. Who better to help design and build an EHR than the clinicians who use it?
The first SSM hospital to go live with the EHR was SSM St. Joseph Hospital West in Lake St. Louis, Mo., in March 2008, and in August 2009, our seventh hospital, SSM DePaul Health Center in Bridgeton, Mo., will come online. More than 140 physicians are using the EHR in their offices and clinics, and the number is growing. The conversion, which began in 2005 and will be completed in 2012, will involve 15 SSM hospitals and more than 300 physician offices at a cost of more than $300 million.
Patients are already benefiting where EHR is live in SSM:
They no longer need to hand carry to their doctors offices the film generated by MRI, X-ray and other diagnostic tests because the EHRs picture archiving and communication system transmits them electronically. Physicians, technologists and other clinicians can simultaneously view the digital images, which reduce the time from diagnosis to treatment. Computers are at patient bedsides for instant access by clinicians.
Patient safety is increased when physicians enter their treatment orders directly into computers (computerized physician order entry). Not only is less time spent deciphering handwriting, but the chances for error are reduced during transmission.
More than 90% of medications are being scanned at patients bedsides using barcodes. The technology reduces the chances of medication errors by alerting clinicians if the five rights of medication administrationright patient, right drug, right dose, right time, right routehavent been followed. The system also checks for drug interactions and allergies.