Logansport Memorial Hospital is preparing for a new electronic medical record system that will replace the two the facility currently uses.

Dan Hildebrand, chief information officer for the hospital, said one electronic medical record system is used for what's called the hospital's acute side, which includes services like X-rays and laboratory tests. The hospital's physicians, he continued, use a different system.

Physicians at the hospital formerly operated under their own practices, Hildebrand explained. As they started becoming hospital employees, it was discovered that the electronic medical record system the hospital uses for acute services wasn't well-suited for the physician side, so the hospital equipped them with a separate electronic medical record system.

Now the hospital has outgrown the capabilities of both systems, Hildebrand said.

"When patients come in here and have to register in two different places, that's a pain point," he said. "...We've recognized that's a problem."

Hospital officials set out to find a system that would bring everything into one platform, he continued.

"We're a community hospital," Hildebrand said. "We want to make sure that when patients come into our doors that everybody's taken care of."

Efforts toward the new system have been in the works for about the past two years, Hildebrand said. Last year the hospital formed a selection committee that researched the topic and met with various vendors.

The hospital has enlisted Cerner, a health information technology company headquartered in North Kansas City, Missouri, to provide a system that will result in one electronic health record system for patients.

In the future, Hildebrand said patients will have one portal they can access to view their health information like lab results and X-rays.

"All of that will be in your [electronic health record]," he said. "We want to make sure that it's cohesive and it's very easy to get to from a patient perspective."

Patients will no longer have to register in two different systems like they have to today, Hildebrand said. If a patient visits a physician before needing to get a test done, their information will be available at the lab.

Getting the system in place will be a 12- to 15-month project, Hildebrand said, adding the hospital plans for it to go live in 2020.

Perry Gay, hospital president and CEO, said the cost for the new system will be $14.4 million over the next five years. That's not an incremental cost, he continued, as the hospital is currently paying millions for its two existing electronic medical record systems that will soon be replaced. Gay added the change will also allow the hospital to do away with other disparate systems it pays for.

"This move will improve outcomes, satisfaction and also allow us to be more efficient and patient driven." Gay said in an email. "We have never before looked at our [electronic medical record] cost as anything but a necessity, now it will be something that has a real return on investment."

Gay said in an interview that the new system will not only benefit patients, but staff as well.

Cerner will be working at the hospital for a year to build the new system, Gay went on to say.

Having two separate systems can compromise patient safety, he also said. While it has yet to happen at Logansport Memorial Hospital, he indicated keeping distinct records for the same patient could lead to important aspects of their health getting overlooked.

"Attempting to maintain separate allergy lists and medications in different [electronic medical records] leaves the propensity for error," Gay said.

The new system will allow the hospital to remain at the forefront of health technology, Gay said. Slipping away from that status leaves an opening for another entity to take over, resulting in the facility's health care to no longer be local, he continued.

"We want to be on top of the wave and so that's exactly what this is going to provide for us as well," Gay said.

Reach Mitchell Kirk at mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5130.

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