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Electronic health records: Will hospitals succeed in implementing EHR systems?

Last year, Samsung announced several case studies showcasing how the company is enabling hospitals to digitize their work environment. Samsung recently worked with Olympic Medical Center (OMC) in Washington State in a pilot program that allows physicians and medical personnel to use electronic health records (EHR) and cutting-edge technology designed to improve operational efficiencies and cut costs.

New England Patriots rookies visit the Boston Children's Hospital June 23, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
Photo by Darren McCollester

Samsung installed smart display monitors which transfers and stores data on the cloud. The hi-tech monitors also eliminated the need for traditional pc hardware and mouse interaction. The company claims that the technology reduces acquisition costs as well as IT maintenance. “The new workflow is significantly faster and has cut my dictation and chart completion time by more than 30 minutes every day,” said Dr. Rebecca Corley.

If Samsung continues to deliver operational efficiencies at OMC, the medical center could soon become a benchmark for hospitals across the nation, especially in the wake of Obamacare’s full implementation next year. In 2011, politicians attached mandates to the Affordable Care Act that requires healthcare institutions to move towards electronic health records. Most hospitals and government agencies are falling behind schedule in meeting this requirement.

On its part, OMC’s leadership is intent on moving forward with electronic health records (EHR) and advanced clinical applications to improve productivity and care to patients. Later this year, the facility will begin rolling out software that will give health care providers secure access to a patient’s medical history and make it easier to achieve coordinated care across various medical providers.

The public sector is following Samsung’s efforts. Last year, the U.S. Defense Department announced that it probably wasted $1 billion of taxpayer money over the course of five years in trying to implement an EHR initiative. Without significant help from private contractors, the Pentagon’s program managers were simply not up to the gargantuan task of digitizing health records across multiple government agencies each using incongruent technologies and databases.

Standardization of information systems is a requirement for comprehensive and effective data mining. It’s also becoming a business opportunity for solutions providers. For instance, Dicom Systems specializes in enabling clinics and hospitals to digitize their health records through the use of proprietary routers. “Our best in class routing products resolve the challenges that far too many clinicians are presented with in multi-vendor, multi-facility imaging and reporting communications,” said Dean Whitt, vice president of business development. By standardizing the protocol for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging, disparate communications systems can “talk” to each other.

Not all attempts at process optimization have been successful at OMC. Samsung integrated productivity applications such as Dragon speech recognition software but the experiment posed significant limitations. “The configuration was far from perfect,” said Sean Johnson, OMC’s Information Systems Manager. “At the time, we were forced to have Dragon loaded locally on the tablets, and the physicians had to cut and paste their dictated notes over to the host server. The many issues with the workflow caused most of our physicians to abandon Dragon for a more traditional, and more costly, transcribed dictation model.”

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