By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Paula Connell says she is not the most "computer literate" person in the world, so when St. Vincent Home began its move to full electronic medical recordkeeping, she admitted to a little apprehension.
A couple of months after EMR (electronic medical records) became a way of life at St. Vincent, Connell, the home administrator, says she should never have worried.
The transition to paperless record keeping was smooth, with improved service one of the by-products. All information about residents is now computerized and easily accessible.
Connell, who said St. Vincent is the first nursing home in the region to go paperless, said, "This system promotes a person-centered, person-directed approach to providing care by making all pertinent information immediately available via laptops and PDAs to those providing the care. We couldn't be more pleased with what we are seeing."
Data is more easily shared and accessed by medical personnel, who can tap into the system wherever there is Internet service.
Connell said the paperless system was introduced in phases. The home has three units that house a combined 70-75 residents. One by one, Connell said, the units became comfortable with the EMR process.
"We started (planning for) this about two years ago, and it has gone much smoother than we expected," Connell said. "The staff has really embraced it."
Connell said full electronic medical records have led to improved resident charts, clinical assessments, physician orders and approvals, drug administration tracking, medication/allergy interaction data, pharmacy communication and progress reports.
Less paperwork also means more in-person time being able to be spent with residents.
"(EMR) has greatly improved the employees' time management," said Pam DeMoss, director of nursing at St. Vincent.
"Nurses have resources at their fingertips for pertinent drug information, and are able to put medication orders into the computer at the time they receive the order from the physician over the phone. It is then sent immediately to the pharmacy to be processed.
"It's amazing and has taken very little time to learn to navigate the system."
The system installed was through Sigmacare out of New York City.
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