Mercy hospitals in Oklahoma move toward electronic health records, telemedicine

The Mercy hospitals in El Reno and Guthrie switched to computerized medical records and soon will use two-way video to seek patient diagnoses from specialists in larger cities.
BY CELIA AMPEL campel@opubco.com Published: July 10, 2012
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Soon, a stroke patient in El Reno could be diagnosed and approved for treatment by a specialist in Oklahoma City — without any time on the road.

Emergency room staff at the 48-bed Mercy Hospital in El Reno will be able to use two-way video to communicate with a neurologist, who can prescribe treatment remotely. The telestroke program, to launch in El Reno this year, is part of Mercy's larger effort to use technology to improve patient care.

Mercy CEO and President Lynn Britton recently won an information technology achievement award sponsored by Modern Healthcare magazine and the Health Information and Management Systems Society. Mercy hospitals in El Reno and Logan County switched to electronic patient records in mid-June. But other Mercy locations have used computerized records since 2004, Britton said.

Another effort is MyMercy, an online portal that allows patients to check records, make appointments and communicate with their doctors without visiting the office. Mercy also is expanding its use of telemedicine and working to open a virtual care center in St. Louis.

Electronic records

The Mercy hospitals in El Reno and Logan County launched the electronic health record system, known as Epic, on June 9. It took weeks of training for hospital staff, but the transition was smooth, said Josh Tucker, administrator of the Logan County hospital in Guthrie.

Tucker said a nurse told him the new system means making patients' charts is two to three times faster. “She can spend all that time now with the patient at their bedside,” he said.

Doug Danker, administrator of Mercy Hospital El Reno, said the system cuts down on wait times for record processing and errors based on handwriting. “The Number One thing is communication between the patient and the doctor and the hospital staff is immediate now,” he said.

Even when doctors aren't at the hospital, they can see patients' X-rays or lab reports, he said.

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Electronic health records

OU Medical Center is making progress toward a complete transition to electronic records, hospital spokesman Scott Coppenbarger said.

Integris Health has used an electronic health record system, My Integris, for a little more than a year. Spokesman Hardy Watkins said the hospital launched an enhanced version of the system July 1.

St. Anthony Hospital implemented its electronic health record system last fall, spokeswoman Tiffany Aguilar said.

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