PRMC first in Presbyterian group to make switch to electronic records

Plains Regional Medical Center's internal electronic health record system will go live Saturday, and PRMC will be the first in the Presbyterian Healthcare Services system to do so.

The new records system was implemented by the Wisconsin-based Epic Systems, and it cost the entire PHS system about $200 million according to Angel Evans, Epic facilities site coordinator at PRMC. She said the main reason for the switch to electronic records is to provide better patient care and improve hospital efficiency.

Presbyterian Healthcare Services includes eight hospitals in New Mexico.

Evans said patients will notice computers in every room, and the doctors will use them instead of paper charts. She said this will increase the efficiency of the hospital. If there is a work order that needs to be placed, such as an X-ray, doctors can place the order into the Epic System, where it will be placed into a work queue. Whereas before, a doctor would have to transfer a hard copy work order physically.

Doctors will also know what treatments a patient has received even if it is from another hospital branch, and this will decrease double treatments, according to Evans.

Evans said the staff have been training since April, but there will be a slight learning curve. There will be 150 staff from Epic, PRMC, and consultants helping with the transition.

"It's not just a new system, but it also changes the way we work," Evans said.

A government mandate requires all medical records be changed to an electronic format by the end of 2014. Penalties will be issued to health care entities that do not make the switch.

"The government won't have access to your medical records — only those involved with your medical treatment," Evans.

With the Epic system, records will be accessible from any PHS hospital or clinic. Evans said the hospitals in Albuquerque will go live with Epic in December, and the rest will go live in May 2014.

A program called My Chart will allow patients obtain their medical records by signing up through the hospital or through PHS. Evans discouraged printing off records and bringing them to a non-PHS medical facility.

"I would recommend requesting a copy of your medical records from the medical records office to make sure you get your records completely if you move," Evans said.

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