Westwood An electronic medical records system at Kansas University Hospital will improve patient care, help doctors avoid mistakes and allow patients to check test results from their home computers, hospital officials said Tuesday.
It took more than $42 million and five years of gradual introduction, but the hospital’s system is beginning to become fully operational.
Chris Hansen, KU Hospital senior vice president and chief information officer, showed KU Hospital Authority Board members Tuesday what medical records at the hospital used to look like.
A lined sheet of paper showed a nearly illegible mass of black ink with directions to pharmacists and other information about patient care.
“You can’t read it,” Hansen said. “You’re paying a bunch of pharmacists a bunch of money to read a bunch of scribbles.”
The new system not only makes it so people have to interpret less of doctors’ notoriously bad writing, it improves patient safety and quality of care in a number of other ways, too.
For one, the system is equipped to alert the doctors if something seems wrong. It will tell the doctor if a patient is allergic to a medication, if the dosage is wrong for the size of the patient or if something is inconsistent with the standardized care.
The system is plugged into the latest evidence-based research and will offer suggestions based on those recommendations, Hansen said.
In places where the system has been in place, the length of care and mortality rates for specific disorders have dropped dramatically, said William Barkman, chief of staff for KU Hospital.
Doctors at the hospital have griped some as the system changes their workflow process, Barkman said. But the hospital remains confident that in the long run, the system will have benefits for them, too, Hansen said.
KU Hospital is also just beginning to roll out a new patient portal that goes with the system.
Using the portal, patients will be able to log in from their computers at home and look at their charts, test results and other information.
In a recent trial run for the portal, of the 1,423 patients who accepted the system, 640 people accessed the information, including 23 who were over 80 years old, Hansen said. One person was 89, he said.
The system will also create a trove of easily searchable data that can be used for research at KU Medical Center, said Barbara Atkinson, KUMC executive vice chancellor.
The records system will be available both in the hospital and its affiliated outpatient clinics.
Hansen said that even though much of the system is working now, there is still work that remains to be done.
“It’s a journey that keeps on going,” he said.