Using Information Technology to Improve Patient Care
CHA is using new technology to improve the overall quality, safety, and efficiency of our health care system. Over the past decade, we have made key investments, including the use of Epic electronic health records (EHR) in all our inpatient and ambulatory settings. We began using our EHR in 2002, and as an early-adopter of this powerful technology, we have a long track record with its use.
Today, wherever patients are seen at CHA - in the hospital, emergency department, primary care practice, or specialty site - our teams have their medical information, giving patients more timely and coordinated care. Currently 99% of all ambulatory primary and specialty care visits utilize our integrated EHR system.
The Benefits of EHR
Electronic Health Records have significant benefits for patients and providers. Here are a few key examples:
More timely access to information and more timely care. With a system-wide EHR, CHA clinical staff have immediate access to patient information. This is critical in areas like the emergency department, where prior health history and current medications are essential. It also helps primary care providers quickly manage a patient's health needs. This is particularly important after emergency or specialty visits that require timely follow-up. Direct access to patient records has also reduced wait times for patients, which can be a problem area.
Improved decision-making. The EHR system has clinical decision supports that help providers make treatment decisions based on the most current medical knowledge.
Enhanced communication. As CHA providers are spread across Cambridge, Somerville, and Boston's metro-north region, there is a need for timely, secure communication among team members in different locations. With the EHR, many providers can access a patient's chart simultaneously, letting them add notes, view test results, and clarify orders. This coordination of care across multiple sites is critical to becoming a more integrated health system that can better meet the needs of tens of thousands of patients.
The MyChart component of the EHR also lets patients log into their medical records using a secure server. This lets them review test results, request prescription refills, or send a message to their provider's office at any times.
Reducing medical errors. Having an EHR with standardized categories and terms makes many day-to-day aspects of clinical care safer than ever before. The chance of misinterpreted orders and potential drug interactions is greatly reduced, and the ability to provide patients with printed instructions for their care allows them to be a more active partner in their health.