AMC records go electronic

Published 10:02 am Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Medical center to launch record on Saturday

Austin Medical Center is aiming for higher efficiency.

AMC, along with Albert Lea Medical Center, both part of Mayo Health System, will launch their new electronic medical records Saturday.

According to Tammy Kritzer, Austin Medical Center vice president of clinical support, the new record system will allow all Mayo facilities to access patient information immediately, and it will make sharing patient information safer. The new system should help physicians access a patient’s allergy information, help prevent medication interactions and allow prescriptions to be sent electronically to pharmacies.

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“The focus is on improving safety and our ability to coordinate care,” Kritzer said. “The clear advantage is that because we will have a shared medical record for all Mayo Health System sites, everyone will have the most comprehensive information available.”

Kritzer said Mayo has been using electronic records for seven years, and the average patient probably won’t notice a major change immediately.

“In the short term, there might be some minor delays at check-in or in a room with the provider, but we think we will work through that very quickly in the first few weeks,” she said.

Kritzer said the new system will allow physicians immediate access to medical records within the Mayo system, and it will allow doctors to coordinate care better than non-integrated practices are able to do. It should also cut down on repeat treatments.

“(The patient) will notice that if they’re getting care at multiple sites, the information will be available immediately,” Kritzer said.

While some patients may have concerns about privacy issues with the new system, Kritzer said it should actually enhance security. The new system will be a secure, password-protected device that’s closely monitored. Health care providers and staff will have access only to the portions of the patient’s electronic medical record that is needed for them to perform their care and work.

“It is designed in a way so patient privacy is protected,” she said. “It is password protected, and access is very thoughtfully assigned. From a privacy perspective, we actually feel better about an electronic system than a paper system. (Privacy) is enhanced in a electronic environment.”

Dr. John Coppes, AMC medical director and OB/GYN physician, said the staff has done a terrific job of implementing the new system.

“With the (system) in place, (Mayo Health System will be) ahead of many other health care organizations in this country,” he said. “We are excited to offer this new technology to our patients.”

AMC and ALMC are the final two sites within the Mayo Health System to add the new electronic records. With their launch Saturday, the system will be live at all Mayo facilities.