Atlantic General Hospital was one of two healthcare organizations in the mid-Atlantic region recently awarded a $50,000 grant to fund innovations to improve patient safety. Atlantic General’s grant-winning proposal includes the creation of a software solution that allows for communication between iMed, the electronic medical records system at the hospital, and the medical records program used by physicians’ practices within the health system.
Accurate medication reconciliation, the comparison of current medications documented by various sources to identify and correct any discrepancies in a patient’s records, is imperative to quality heath care and improved patient safety.
Currently, there is no electronic means of transmitting information from a patient’s chart in a doctor’s office to the hospital. When a patient is admitted to the hospital, the physician’s office must be contacted for a list of current medications and allergies. This makes reconciliation time consuming and inefficient.
“The electronic medication reconciliation project, will allow us to quickly compare medications and allergies reported to the primary care physicians with those reported to other caregivers throughout the patient’s continuum of care,” said Cheryl Nottingham, project director and vice president of finance. “We are very excited about receiving funding to develop this technology and to share it with other hospitals in the Mid-Atlantic area.”
With the system that is to be developed by Atlantic General Hospital’s Information Services Department, communication of medical data will be two-way. Any medication or allergy updates to a patient’s record, entered either by a physician’s office or the hospital pharmacy, can be seen via a web-based interface by both parties. Such a bi-directional system insures that an individual’s healthcare provider has the most up-to-date information recorded for that person.
The $50,000 grant, which was sponsored by Cardinal Health Foundation and awarded by the Maryland Patient Safety Center, will fund the first 12-month phase of the project. During that time, specialized hardware and software will be installed for use by one or two physician practices within the health system that will serve as test models for the project.
In subsequent phases, the system will be expanded to Atlantic General’s Emergency and Surgery Departments as well as all practices within the health system.
“There are national initiatives driving healthcare towards interoperable Electronic Health Records. In effect, patient clinical information needs to be portable and must move with patients from one point of care to another.” said Murray Oltman, Director of Information Services. “Eventually, we plan to offer this solution to all primary care practitioners in the area who admit patients to Atlantic General Hospital.”
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