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NorthShore University HealthSystem Rolls Out E-Patient Record System

NorthShore University HealthSystem Rolls Out Electronic Patient Record System, Setting National Standard for Improving Quality of Care  

Mobile terminals provide flexibility for medical professionals accessing the hospitals' electronic systems

NorthShore University HealthSystem has launched a state-of-the-art electronic patient record system that has been rapidly adopted by 100 percent of all doctors, nurses and other medical professionals. The system is a prescription for dramatically improving patient safety and quality of care while saving the organization $10 million a year. 

The integrated patient record system provides a single, unified source of clinical information that fundamentally changes how records are used and stored by shifting the focus from the institution to the patient. The record now follows the patient—from the physician’s office to the laboratory to the pharmacy to the hospital--rather than being scattered among various providers. The system integrates computerized physician order-entry (CPOE) with electronic health records (EHRs), so all charting of patients; ordering of tests, procedures and medications; registration; scheduling; and physician billing is done electronically through one system. 

“President George W. Bush has called for every American to have an electronic patient record in 10 years,” says Mark R. Neaman, president and chief executive officer of NorthShore University HealthSystem. “We, too, believe electronic patient records are a critical foundation for realizing major improvements in healthcare, and our physicians and staff have made it our top corporate priority since 2001. Having now completed our three-year project to integrate electronic patient records with computerized physician order-entry, we are taking healthcare to a new level of safety and quality.” 

NorthShore University HealthSystem has rolled out the system to its three Illinois hospitals—Evanston, Glenbrook and Highland Park—as well as 50 NorthShore University HealthSystem Medical Group--offices and outpatient sites. In just over a year since the rollout began, all of the organization’s doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians and other employees are fully trained and using the system. Independent physicians who have privileges at the hospitals also use the system for in-patient care, with the total number of system users exceeding 6,200.  

Dr. Arnold Wagner, Jr., who provided physician leadership in implementing a state of the art electronic patient record system, accepts the KLAS award from Mark Neaman, president/chief executive officer of NorthShore University HealthSystem. The award recognized NorthShore University HealthSystem for being a leader in the use of electronic medical records.

NorthShore University HealthSystem’s three hospitals are among only 41 throughout the nation that fully comply with the CPOE standards set by a well-known industry watchdog organization dedicated to improving hospital quality care. As of April, 1,160 hospitals had participated in the CPOE survey for the Leapfrog Group, which is a coalition of more than 150 public and private organizations that provide health care benefits. In another recent rating of CPOE use at hospitals nationwide by KLAS Enterprises, NorthShore University HealthSystem received the highest score.  

“NorthShore University HealthSystem is a leader in using information technology to transform the practice of medicine,” says Kent Gale, president of Utah-based KLAS Enterprises, which evaluates healthcare information technology products. “In the last six months, we interviewed virtually every hospital in the United States that has reported its doctors and nurses actively used commercially available software to order and chart patient information, some 200 hospitals in all. NorthShore University HealthSystem’s use of its integrated patient record system surpasses any other system.” 

The new system is substantially enhancing patient care. The turnaround time for obtaining test results has fallen significantly, with mammograms now taking a day compared to up to three weeks, and cardiographics reports dropping from as long as 10 days to one day. Entire categories of medication errors and potential errors have been eliminated, including transcription errors, errors due to misunderstood abbreviations and mix-ups due to look-alike drug names. In addition, delayed administration of patient medications has decreased 70 percent while omitted administration of medications has dropped 20 percent across the organization due to the electronic medication administration records and system tools that alert nurses of new patient orders and of overdue medications. 

Equally important, the system is allowing NorthShore University HealthSystem to embed best-practice processes in the daily routine rather than storing the information in documents in a file cabinet. Such a transition enhances greater use of evidence-based medicine. The system also enables proactive clinical risk management because it can easily be reconfigured to accommodate new safety procedures and process improvements. Moreover, it facilitates aggregate patient tracking and trend analysis to improve care of specific patient populations across all sites.  

David Greising (left) chief business correspondent, Chicago Tribune, facilitated a panel discussion following the award presentation. Here he talks with Kent Gale, President, KLAS Enterprises, about the transformation taking place in healthcare using an integrated record system

As a result, the organization already has identified potential problems with patient treatment. Electronic tracking of certain patients who receive the pain medication Dilaudid helped doctors spot a pattern of unusual reactions to the drug and led NorthShore University HealthSystem to change the recommended dosages for future patients. The organization also has begun providing electronic clinical decision support, even extending it across multiple caregivers for a given diagnosis. For breast cancer, it integrates treatment from radiology, outpatient hospital visits, in-patient care, and medical office check-ups.  

The system also is enhancing financial performance. The expected $10 million in savings is coming from such improvements as higher co-pay collection and rising reimbursements. At the same time, insurance denials due to lack of information have fallen to nearly zero. 

“NorthShore University HealthSystem is showing how the innovative use of technology can deliver community-based medicine that leads to better patient outcomes,” says Arnold Wagner, Jr., M.D., former president of the professional staff who now heads the physician advisory committee for the system. “It puts the collective focus of our work right where it belongs—on the patient. And it makes NorthShore University HealthSystem a better place to practice medicine.