By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
Mercy McCune-Brooks Hospital has completed installation of a system that will allow health records to “travel” along with the patient and perhaps reduce the need for a patient to travel for more specialized care.
The electronic health records system, known as Epic, has been in place since Dec. 1, according to Pam Barlet, hospital spokeswoman.
The system “virtually connects all Mercy hospitals and physicians to patient information,” said Bob Copeland, president of Mercy McCune-Brooks.
With the system, the medical records of a patient will electronically follow the patient, giving doctors, nurses and specialists immediate access to information needed for treatment. The program is being installed throughout the Mercy system of hospitals and clinics.
McCune-Brooks became part of the Sisters of Mercy Health System a year ago.
The access to records will include any physician in the Mercy system, Barlet said. So, if a patient in Carthage is referred to a specialist in another city, the records will be available to that specialist.
“The (distant) doctor will just access it on computer, so the patient won’t have to worry about keeping track of it,” she said. “And they’ll have access to any labs and testing results.”
Barlet said the system also will open up the opportunity for telemedicine for local patients. In cases in which a patient may not be able to travel, a specialist can review the records and tests online and communicate with a local doctor regarding treatment.
An extension of the system is the MyMercy program, which gives patients the convenience of communicating and connecting with their doctors’ offices online.
“It gives our patients the freedom to do a lot of things on their own time, without the need for a phone call,” Copeland said.
Patients will be able to review lab results, view upcoming and past appointments, schedule appointments, get automated health maintenance reminders, request medication refills, view a child’s records, and manage the care of elderly parents.
Barlet said hospital workers still are getting used to the new system, which does require patients to provide more information on the first visit.
“It will really speed up things after someone has come in the first time,” she said. “But I know it’s been frustrating for staff. We want to perfect this system so the visit is seamless for the patient.”
THE ELECTRONIC HEALTH RECORDS SYSTEM that was in place before the May 2011 tornado in Joplin is credited with allowing Sisters of Mercy Health System to quickly resume operations after St. John’s Regional Medical Center, a Mercy hospital in Joplin, was destroyed.