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Prosser Memorial New computer system will help improve patient experience at Prosser hospital

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Prosser Memorial Hospital Emergency Room RN Karen Legerski (L) and Information Services Manager Greg Belkle stand with a new touch-screen computer that will be used in the emergency room to help better serve patients.

PROSSER - Prosser Memorial Hospital (PMH) recently became "wired." The hospital achieved this new status through a technology project, expanding computer utilization at PMH from 36 to more than 100 computers, as well as through a newly integrated health information management system. All of these changes have come over the past two years.

The new health information management system allows staff to operate more efficiently when receiving, documenting and disseminating patient information.

The project began in May 2002, when it was determined that a major computer system upgrade was needed and the PMH Board of Directors voted to approve the technology project.

The project began by evaluating prospective health information management system choices, including four national health information companies. In the end, CPSI was selected due to its high rating for user satisfaction and its price point. The company currently provides service to more than 750 hospitals, primarily on the east coast and Mid-West. However, the company is in the process of branching out into the Northwest and PMH is now a pilot site.

The hospital has invested more than $577,000 for hardware and software components. The system conversion began in June 2003 with the installation of an IBM E-Server unit and software components. Over time, the system will allow for component additions and upgrades as demand and usage increases.

Current departments utilizing the new software include patient financial services, patient care order entry, laboratory, diagnostic imaging, admitting, pharmacy, and medical records. Other departments anticipated to begin using the system in the coming months include risk management, infection control, quality management and a nursing module that will allow bedside patient charting.

When the system is fully in place, patients will be admitted to the emergency room using a bedside touch-screen computer, which will produce an armband coded with the patient's medical record number. Medical staff will also be able to order blood work from the lab, x-rays from the diagnostic imaging department or medication from the pharmacy using their computers. The computers can also be used to notify appropriate departments immediately and accurately with test results delivered directly to the physician, allowing for faster diagnosis and treatment. The system also allows a patient's primary provider to be kept apprised of the patient's status from his or her office.

Another component of the system is physician connectivity, which began with general surgeon Dr. Paul Schreiber. The system allows him to schedule surgery cases, input orders and monitor diagnostic results for his patients prior to arriving at the hospital. The goal is to establish similar links with all affiliated physicians over the next six months to one year. The Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic in Grandview is currently in the process of implementing the program.

The CPSI system is compliant with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and is very secure, with 160 controls that monitor and allow specific staff access to particular areas of a patient's medical information. The hardware is a redundant or "mirrored" system, which means it is duplicated at CPSI headquarters. This duplication reduces the risk of potential data loss should some component of the system fail.

The new software has posed some unique challenges for staff as they have worked to adopt the new system. The staff has become more proficient and knowledgeable with all sides of the data entry system. Hospital officials say medical billing has and will continue to become significantly more accurate, leading to fewer outstanding bills. Future modules will serve to streamline the medical care process at the hospital, allowing clinical staff to devote more time toward direct patient care.

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