Hospital goes electronic
“Super Users” electronic records transition team that took Tehachapi Hospital from paper to digital, from left, Gwen Allen, LVN, emergency department; Heather Adams, ER tech; Mary Lighthill, ER triage; Kathie Sweeney, LVN; Gail Kuhar, training, support; Lisa Montgomery, health unit coordinator on med surg floor; Juliana Kirby, interim chief nursing officer; Deysi De La Cruz, first-year nurse, acute care; missing from photo because she worked the previous night, Ginny Whiteside.
by Tina Forde
Nurses and staff at the plucky, jam-packed, little-engine-that-could Tehachapi Hospital didn’t wait around for the outcome of a lawsuit to forge ahead with the installation of a new electronic health records system that will transition smoothly to the new hospital.
“When we move to the new hospital all we need is internet access,” said Tehachapi Valley Healthcare district IT chief Dusty Colvard June 7 at a going-live celebration honoring the staff who worked hard to get program adapted to the Tehachapi facility and ready to use.
“We’ll basically flip a switch,” said healthcare district CEO Alan Burgess.
Interim Chief Nursing Officer Juliana Kirby was all smiles at the celebration, held at the community meeting room next to the hospital, as she introduced the team (see photo caption) who made it possible to throw away paper and electronically enter all the data that enables a hospital to function -- medical records, billing, laboratory information, patient admissions and transfers, drugs, lab and x-ray orders, ER orders and more.
Kirby called the transition team “Super Users.”
“The learning curve is tough,” Kirby said. “It’s a new system – electronic. We’ve been on paper forever. It’s a major shift in what we need to do.
“The Healthland [manufacturers of the electronic health records system] team was complimentary. They said it was the best job yet they had seen in a training staff. They said we were going through problems a whole lot faster than other places.”
The “Super User” team adapted paper forms to meet electronic demands.
“The team put together the best documents for us,” Kirby said.
California, she said, has unique requirements for reports.
“You get them done in time or get fined,” Kirby said.
The transition team will be at doctors’ sides for the next few weeks.
“Doctors are required to do 100 percent computer entry. It’s a safety issue that reduces errors. Physicians enter their own orders,” Kirby said.
For some of the doctors, she said, “It’s a big mind-set change.”
Beginning July 1, the system will be tested for “meaningful use” that will lead to reimbursement of most of the system’s price of $900,000 through the federal programs Affordable Health Care for America Act and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Burgess said.