Ripon Medical Center introduces technology to bolster communication sharing
While there is something distinctly different at Ripon Medical Center these days, chances are most patients and visitors likely would not even notice it. It’s woven throughout the very fabric of Ripon Medical Center and is enhancing efforts to connect important patient information to providers for diagnosis and treatment.
It’s been nearly a year since electronic medical records (EMR) were introduced at Ripon Medical Center. An EMR is a computerized patient chart that replaces the old paper version, increasing patient safety and allowing providers to better manage care.
“In a traditional hospital, when a patient was admitted, you would have one paper chart that followed the patient to the nursing floor, and anyone who needed to view it would physically have to go to that floor to do so,” says Nancy Birschbach, Agnesian HealthCare vice president and chief information officer.
With an EMR, patient information is available to physicians and caregivers when and where they need it through computer access, allowing for a smoother and safer care process.
EMR information at Agnesian HealthCare is integrated throughout all its entities, including Agnesian Pharmacy, Agnesian Health Shoppe, Consultants Laboratory, Fond du Lac Regional Clinic, Ripon Medical Center, St. Agnes Hospital and Waupun Memorial Hospital. This allows providers security access to comprehensive and up-to-date patient information.
“As soon as information is entered into a patient’s electronic chart, it is available immediately for viewing, so providers can have the most current data,” explains Birschbach. “The system is also password-protected for increased security.”
As an added benefit, she says, a patient will only need to give his or her registration information once, when admitted, instead of in each department visited.
“This advanced, state-of-the art EMR system offers a better overall patient experience by making information available immediately, when and where it is needed and only by those who need to see it,” she says. “This builds additional safety and quality features into the patient experience and ultimately increases satisfaction.”
Upon affiliation with Agnesian HealthCare, Ripon Medical Center received all new network hardware and software, including new workstations for all associates and providers. A fiber optics connection is now the norm - something new within the Ripon community.
To help providers with diagnosis, a new picture archiving and communication system (PACS) system has been installed, which replaces hard film copies with digital images that can be used and seen by several different medical professionals and different medical automation systems simultaneously. With this technology, Ripon Medical Center can now securely transfer these images to other facilities in a more timely fashion in the event a patient is far away and providers need to review the images quickly.
In addition, integrated cardiovascular point-of-care technology has been implemented to facilitate the processing of echocardiograms and EKGs right into the electronic medical record.
Patients are finding other conveniences through on-line patient bill paying through agnesian.com, as well as Agnesian eHealth, which is a personal on-line view into the electronic health record that Agnesian HealthCare providers use to manage and document care. It is a free web-based tool that allows patients to access their records anytime and anywhere they have an Internet connection.
And much more is to come with the new Ripon Medical Center, set to open in summer 2014.
High technology will be evident in each room, with much of the inner workings hidden behind cabinetry. Medical charts will be a state-of-the art computer system linked to the nurse call center and phone system for two-way communication. In the new rooms, medical charting will consist of a stationary computer monitor and keyboard – each attached to the wall on separate swivel-arm apparatuses that can be pulled and positioned for easy use.
Birschbach cites faster, more efficient transmission of medical information as an enormous benefit. “The enhanced technology interfaces directly with the patient’s electronic record,” she says, noting that with wireless communication and better connectivity, messages are relayed more quickly to physicians, labs and nursing associates.
A 42-inch flat-screen television with a multitude of stations will also boast connectivity to the Internet, an array of games, the latest movies, as well as educational programming for patients to view.
Telehealth is also planned for the new facility, which allows providers from different Agnesian HealthCare organizations to consult face-to-face with other system specialists on particular patient cases.