LUMBERTON — A new electronic health record system is rolling out this month throughout Southeastern Health.
The system is a digital version of a patient’s health history, according to the health care organization. It’s like a paper chart, but it exists in electronic form and travels with the patient from one provider to another.
Southeastern Health first went paperless in 2000. But that system is due to sunset in a few years. That is because it will no longer be supported by its vendor and available to use, says Steven Milston, chief information officer at Southeastern Health. Rather than simply replacing the current system hospital leaders decided it was time for an upgrade. The search for a new system began in 2014. It resulted in a decision to purchase a health record system developed by the software company Epic, which many of North Carolina’s major health systems already use.
“The new EHR has many advantages,” Milston said.
For one, it provides what’s known as a “single solution,” he said. Southeastern Health’s hospital and clinics will use a single records system, making it easier and simpler for everyone. And independent providers will be able to access the software too.
There’s plenty of good news for patients. For one thing, they won’t have to fill out all new forms each time they see a new doctor or go to the hospital. And their primary doctor and specialists will have more complete information about their health, such as: record of past illnesses; a list of medicines they are taking and whether any of them might interact with other medications they are prescribed; any allergies they have; tests or procedures they’ve had in the past.
When providers have a full picture of the patient’s medical history, it helps them take better care of them.
“It really comes down to patient safety and delivering the right care at the right time,” Milston said. “And when I say ‘patient,’ I’m thinking of the community. Because somebody who’s never seen a doctor could be a patient tomorrow.”
Another benefit is the new system can be adapted to help Southeastern Health providers manage chronic conditions that are prevalent in Robeson and surrounding counties — like diabetes, for example.
“We have changed the way we communicate in just about every facet of our lives,” said Dr. James McLeod, lead outpatient physician, Harmony Conversion, Southeastern Medical Clinic North Lumberton. “This is our opportunity to change the way we communicate with our physicians, patients, ancillary staff, and among each other. MyChart is a full-access portal, meaning that it gives you information for test results, lab results, etc. You can request or schedule an appointment. It is true, two-way communication between the patient and the provider; a modern interface available on any smartphone, computer or tablet that gives you immediate access to your medical information.”
Check out the new patient web portal at www.sehmychart.org, or download the MyChart app from the app store. MyChart includes extra smartphone features. For example, the secure system will allow patients to: contact your doctor to ask a question; make appointments; view test results; get a paperless summary of services after a doctor visit; track your data from health and fitness tools, such as Fitbit; review and pay bills online; access all of your medical records from other clinics or doctors in one place; view and manage your personal health record; and see your inpatient and outpatient health information in one place.
The new system is rolling out in two phases. The hospital and a group of affiliates were to go live with the new system on Saturday. Other Southeastern Health clinics will switch over in spring 2018.
“Our phase two roll-out starts at about that same time and will include Gibson Cancer Center, Southeastern Home Health and Hospice, and Southeastern Cardiology,” Milston said.