Medical records at Rush University Medical Center are now fully electronic, allowing real-time communication and coordination of patient care across departments and within the entire health care team.
The two-year, multi-phased transition from paper documents to full clinical documentation using the new electronic health records system was completed in March.
Fewer than 2% of hospitals nationwide have adopted a comprehensive electronic health records system like Rush's that covers all clinical units.
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Rush's electronic health records management system is a key component of the medical center's 10-year Transformation project, begun in 2006, which includes new facilities, renovations and state-of-the-art technologies to improve clinical outcomes and the entire patient and family experience.
The new electronic health records system also supports Rush's efforts to further improve patient outcomes. The system's "clinical decision support" features pop-up screens with alerts, reminders and checks for health care providers when they log into a patient record. For example, medication alerts signal if a patient is allergic to a drug that has been newly prescribed, based on the patient's medical history. Medication alerts are also triggered when interactions between drugs could be harmful. Calculations are automatically provided for drugs whose dosage is weight dependent. Other electronic reminders prompt caregivers about recommended evidence-based clinical guidelines, such as the diagnostic tests and medications to consider for patients with congestive heart failure based on a nationwide knowledge base of experience.
By dispensing with paper records, the electronic system improves safety, for example, by minimizing errors that could occur in transcribing physicians' orders -- and makes the delivery of care more efficient. Patient records are all located in one electronic document, rather than lying in archives in different departments. Every record, note, order and assessment can be accessed online through a secure login.
President Barack Obama has challenged hospitals to computerize all health records within five years in order to create a national health record system. According to President Obama, a national health record system would cut waste, eliminate red tape, and reduce the need to repeat expensive medical tests. In addition, the President says electronic medical record systems save lives by reducing deadly but preventable medical errors.
Rush's electronic medical records system was designed by Epic Systems Corporation, a medical software developer based in Madison, Wisconsin.