Sparrow Goes Paperless; Patients Benefit

By: Tiffany Teasley Email
By: Tiffany Teasley Email

The days of pounds of paperwork and miles of folders will soon be a thing of the past for Sparrow Hospital.

"It would break down the barriers of information that we have today with the paper-based record," said Kathy Smith, Electronic Medical Record Project Director.

Their new Electronic Medical Record system (EMR) kicked off Tuesday, a multi-year project, giving patients the power to access their own records.

"So, that they can check to see if the test result has been received or if they want to refill a prescription, they can request to do that, they can schedule an appointment online," said Thomas Bres, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Sparrow.

It also gives doctors the convenience of tracking patient information from laptops that physicians will soon carry.

"For them that means the information they need, in a format they can use, where ever they are and when ever they need it," said Dr. Michael Zaroukian, Director of Clinical Informatics and Care Transformation.

The hundreds of papers and medical records that used to bog down physicians will now be replaced with an easy to use electronic tablet that will store patient information.

All the electronic information and applications will be stored in the hospital's data center.

"It will save us money, because it will allow us to eliminate work that's being done today," Bres said.

It's still unknown how much money the project will save, but officials say the timing is perfect -- mirroring the health care reform at the federal level.

"As you listen to the national health care debate, you hear about things like, controlling health care costs, maintaining and enhancing the quality of care and those are all things that this sparrow EMR project will help to accomplish," Bres said.

The project will be implemented in three phases, patients will be able to start accessing information electronically before the first half of 2010.


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