Millinocket Regional Hospital is about two months from going online with a fully integrated, electronic patient information system, said CEO Marie Vienneau. The $850,000 investment in technology is another building block needed in the movement of making a patient’s medical records totally electronic providing health care providers with the most up-to-date information as soon as it is available.
The two components of this investment, Vienneau said, are a new Spacelabs Monitoring System and “CR” Computed Radiography.
The Spacelabs Monitoring System is a touch screen computer that records a patient’s vital signs, cardiac monitors and the hospital’s telemetry system (portable cardiac monitor). That information is recorded and transferred to the patient’s computerized medical record so that all information can be found in one place.
“It integrates with our electronic records system so patient data is all together in one record system,” Vienneau said. “It’s a huge time saver for nurses because they don’t have to manually enter that information and it safeguards patients.”
With the workloads of nurses ever increasing, anything that can be done to save time while maintaining accurate patient information is a double bonus.
Vienneau said the Spacelabs can be found all through the hospital it the intensive care unit, in-patient area, emergency room, ambulatory surgery, minor surgery, operating room and recovery room.
“CR” is a part of PACS – picture archiving computer system – and is another exciting component to a patient’s electronic record, Vienneau said.
“What a CR does is basically digitize your x-ray,” Vienneau said. “It’s equivalent to a giant digital camera card.”
The uploaded picture, or x-ray, can then be examined on a computer screen giving the doctor and radiologist the ability to zoom in on certain locations, lighten and darken areas to look deeper into the patient’s body to give them the best view.
The PACS part of the investment is the last program to be installed. Vienneau explained it will allow the hospital to archive each patient’s films and at the same time have them conveniently available for doctors to look at anytime from a computer in the hospital as well as at their offices.
Vienneau said the hospital will keep x-rays on file for a year and then, through a relationship with Eastern Maine Medical Center, will have EMMC archive them long term. In addition, patient x-rays will also be able to be sent electronically to EMMC eliminating the need to “hand carry” them to appointments.
“And if a patient has to go somewhere like Boston, we will be able to burn all their pictures on a CD for them to take,” Vienneau said. “It will be much more convenient for the patient and the doctor.”
Vienneau explained that MRH chose to partner with EMMC on this venture because many patients go to EMMC for additional care. We thought it best for the continuity of care for our patients,” Vienneau said.
Vienneau said the hospital is purchasing a separate CR system for orthopedic surgeon Dr. David Wexler’s office so that he will have one on-site and will be able to customize it to fit his needs.
The ability to share patient data in real time with doctors at MRH and EMMC is an exciting service that further enables MRH to offer the quality of care patients have come to expect, Vienneau said.