Electronics Changing Health Care

December 16, 2013

Sealevel’s founder and CEO, Tom O’Hanlan, wrote an article that recently appeared in the editorial column of “The Greenville News”. Electronic Medical Records are changing medicine for the better as you will see in the article republished here

The Electronic MedSealevel CEO Tom O'Hanlanical Record (EMR) will affect every patient in this country. The EMR is a digital version of a paper chart that contains all of a patient’s medical history in one place. It is created and maintained in hospitals and ambulatory environments to give patients, physicians and other healthcare providers access to a patient’s medical records across facilities. An EMR helps providers to diagnose and treat patients by allowing them to track data over time, identify patients who are due for preventive visits and screenings, or monitor how patients measure up to certain parameters. The EMR can improve overall quality of care in a practice.

The storage of EMR information allows for a continuum of care between the medical provider and the hospital. The provider can access the patient’s history, current condition and overall plan of care. Digital images are stored and can be accessed and viewed by the medical provider anywhere an internet connection is available using a secure login and password. The EMR allows for real-time information availability and has eliminated the requirement for future off-site storage of records and charts.

Additionally, fiscal value is attached to the EMR.

According to the provisions of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act of 2009, organizations that are eligible for the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and achieve meaningful use by 2014 will be eligible for incentive payments; those who have failed to achieve that standard by 2015 may be penalized. These Medicare and Medicaid EHR (Electronic Health Record) Incentive Programs provide financial incentives for the “meaningful use” of certified electronic health record technology to improve patient care. To receive an incentive payment, providers have to show that they are “meaningfully using” their electronic health records by meeting thresholds on a number of objectives.
Baptist Easley Hospital, like many other health systems across the country, has begun the process of implementing the EMR.

Currently all records are electronic, with approximately 90 percent of the medical record available in real time electronically and the remaining 10 percent scanned from paper forms. Baptist Easley has and continues to receive meaningful use incentives. Receiving these meaningful use payments from the federal government has been critical in the implementation of the EMR at both the hospital and physician practices.

Through Palmetto Health Information Technology, Baptist Easley is now on the cutting edge of two new programs: patient and physician portals. These portals provide immediate crosswalks and access to patient information. (Because of some federal and state limitations as to how much patient information can be accessed on the portals, Palmetto Health is currently only allowing access to current providers of care at BEH.)

MyHealth, the new patient portal for all Baptist Easley and Palmetto Health practices, was initiated on Aug. 12 and fully implemented in Baptist Easley physician practices by Sept. 4. With MyHealth, patients can communicate with their doctor’s office, request prescription refills, review lab results and view personal health information. When a patient arrives at a practice, he or she will provide the office with an email address and will be asked to create security questions. The practice staff then creates the patient portal account and alerts the patient by email once completed.

Electronics are partnering in a significant way as health care evolves. I am proud to be part of an industry that is constantly developing new products to address the ever-evolving needs of health care and to see, as a Baptist Easley hospital board member, how significant those developments can be.