Electronic Medical Records
As a leader in innovative technology, Newton-Wellesley Hospital recognizes the importance of staying current with the latest medical advancements. Our team offers not only high-quality care for patients, but also access to the most advanced technology. With a focus on quality and patient safety, the Hospital has made significant investments in equipment and resources to better meet patient needs.
As a member of Partners HealthCare, a network founded by Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Newton-Wellesley is able to provide patients with seamless accessibility to the finest community-based medicine as well as the most advanced technology in the world. The collaborations with various Partners organizations facilitate referrals among physicians and enable the Hospital to offer superb clinical partnerships between Newton-Wellesley and other Partners entities.
“As part of Partners, the Hospital and our physicians have had the opportunity to incorporate cutting-edge technology into the care of our patients,” says Jeff Murphy, Executive Director of the Newton-Wellesley Physician Hospital Organization.
Ambulatory Electronic Medical Record
One of these advanced tools is the ambulatory electronic medical record (EMR). In 2005, the Hospital began implementing a new Web-based technology to create one common electronic patient record that could be accessed when patients visit Newton-Wellesley, one of our affiliated physician practices or any of the Partners’ institutions and practices.
“Electronic medical records eliminate the need for paper charts and greatly improve the coordination of a patient’s care by the health care providers who are treating the patient,” says Jeff. “All of their medical information is integrated into one common record, allowing primary care and specialist physicians ready access to the most recent office visit notes, current conditions, medications and allergies, as well as laboratory, radiology and other diagnostic test results.”
The use of an electronic medical record provides many benefits for patients. Having their health information easily accessible and available to all of their physicians helps with both the accuracy of diagnosis and avoids the potential duplication of costly services. Access to a complete medical record is essential at the time of diagnosis. It is important that a physician knows information such as the patient’s medications and other medical information. In many cases, this information can alter diagnosis and treatment decisions.
“Using an electronic medical record has a direct impact on the quality of patient care,” says William Holgerson, MD, Medical Director of the Newton- Wellesley Physician Hospital Organization. “Not only is the information needed by the physician available in a comprehensive format, but the electronic record has built-in clinical decision support tools designed to aid the physician in providing safe, high-quality and cost-effective care.”
These tools include health maintenance reminders that alert the physician if the patient is overdue for recommended exams or tests such as a mammogram, influenza vaccine or cholesterol test as well as chronic disease management reminders based on established clinical guidelines such as notification when a diabetic patient is overdue for a recommended screening test. This system helps promote Newton-Wellesley’s medication safety efforts through the use of medication prescribing alerts that notify the physician if a drug being prescribed will have an adverse effect based on the patient’s other medications or if they require specific laboratory tests for monitoring.
The use of electronic medical records has increasingly been identified as a key component to the national health care reform initiative. This technology improves the quality and safety of care and helps with cost savings through better information sharing and coordination of patient care.
“Since the electronic medical record has been integrated across Partners HealthCare, physicians no longer have the need to repeat diagnostic tests, which reduces cost,” says Dr. Holgerson. “Patients’ results from Newton- Wellesley, other Partners hospitals and office visit notes are updated in their medical record. When we were using paper charts, they were stored in the physician’s office. This made it much more difficult for other health care providers involved in that patient’s care to view their test results.”
The Physician Hospital Organization has made extensive resources available for physicians to help them with the transition and to seamlessly integrate this new technology into their visits with each patient.
“Newton-Wellesley has worked hard to deploy the electronic medical record,” says Ned Legare, MD, Primary Care Internist at Newton-Wellesley Primary Care, PC and Associate Medical Director of the Newton-Wellesley Physician Hospital Organization. “It is a priority here and we are ahead of the national efforts to incorporate this technology. Less than 10 percent of physicians nationally use an electronic medical record in their daily patient visits. However, virtually every primary care physician at Newton-Wellesley now uses electronic medical record for more than 85 percent of patient encounters.”
Dr. Legare has seen that the electronic medical record plays a significant role in the quality of patient care.
“A complete medical record is an important factor in patient safety,” says Dr. Legare. “For example, because all of the patient’s current medications are compiled in one location, we are able to avoid prescribing medications that could have an adverse affect. We have also seen a significant decrease in the amount of redundant lab and X-ray ordering in my practice since we began using the electronic medical record.”
Physicians are also able to use this technology as a teaching tool. They can easily look up medications, images and graphs to provide more information and clarity for patients. Newton-Wellesley plans to continue the integration of this technology in order to offer the highest quality of care to patients.
“This technology has been universally embraced by my patients,” says Dr. Legare. “It provides them with another layer of confidence in the care we deliver.”
For more information about physicians or services at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, please contact CareFinder at 1-866-NWH-DOCS (694-3627).
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