St. Clair Hospital, Preferred Healthcare Informatics, and GE Healthcare collaborate to create one of the most integrated electronic health record systems

Pittsburgh 22 July 2010St. Clair Hospital is teaming with Preferred Healthcare Informatics (PHI) and GE Healthcare to place St. Clair Hospital and its physicians among the most integrated users of electronic health records (EHR) in the region.

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"The arrangement between St. Clair Hospital, PHI, and GE Healthcare is the first of its kind in the region", stated Richard J. Schaeffer, vice president and chief information officer, St. Clair Hospital. "The electronic health records, available to any of the 550 physicians with admitting privileges at St. Clair Hospital, will include all of a patient's electronic information from all sites of care - hospital stays, emergency department visits, physician office visits, and eventually skilled nursing facility data - within the St. Clair community, and present it to a physician in a single view. Through the use of GE Healthcare's eHealth Information Exchange (eHIE) technology, the patient's health records will be synthesized across the different sites of care. This will provide a convenient and more complete picture of patients' health and enable physicians to make the highest quality clinical decisions for patients."

This announcement further advances St. Clair Hospital's leading position in health care information technology. The Hospital was among the first six hospitals in the country to receive the Stage 6 award from HIMSS, the leading trade association for health care information technology, recognizing St. Clair's early implementation of electronic health records and other digital safety systems.

This latest enhancement will fully integrate information from both the hospital and physician office settings, enabling better co-ordination of patient care. Richard J. Schaeffer noted that PHI is the informatics division of Preferred Primary Care Physicians (PPCP), a 32-physician group with 17 practice locations in southwestern Pennsylvania. PPCP was an early adopter of ambulatory EHR, having implemented GE Healthcare's Centricity product six years ago. Richard J. Schaeffer said PPCP's real world experience in using electronic health records will be invaluable in designing the new synthesized system and in helping physicians utilize it to its fullest.

"Over the past six years, physicians with PPCP have learned how to practise more effectively using electronic health records", stated Dr. Louis A. Civitarese, president of Preferred Healthcare Informatics and a practising physician with PPCP. "But, more importantly, we've learned how to provide even better medical care to our patients as a result of having this technology. We look forward to sharing this experience through our collaboration with St. Clair and GE Healthcare."

Dr. Civitarese, who has served on the Ambulatory and Advanced Quality Workgroups for the Certification Committee on Health Information Technology (CCHIT), the national organisation that first began certifying EHR technology, said EHR will allow physicians to, among other things, document and view comprehensive medical histories, order diagnostic testing and view the results, send electronic prescriptions to pharmacies, and view electronic alerts for potentially harmful drug interactions or allergies.

For patients with chronic conditions, such as diabetes, EHR provides physicians with sophisticated "decision support" tools based on clinical guidelines. For example, physicians can be alerted when patients with chronic conditions are due for medical services according to clinical guidelines.

Moreover, EHR can connect members of a patient's health care team by allowing providers to electronically send and receive test results and other important medical information as they consult with each other. With the push of a button or click of a computer mouse, EHR, empowered with the new HIE technology, puts a patient's most current and accurate medical information at a physician's fingertips within seconds, and does so in a secure manner that protects patient confidentiality. EHR also allows a patient to manage his or her own personal health record.

The selection of GE Healthcare technology as the platform for the synthesized system followed a rigorous evaluation of EHR vendors that found GE to have leading technology and proven solutions. "GE products are currently used by thousands of physicians to manage millions of patient records, making GE not only a leader for both EHR and practice management software, but also an innovator in health information exchange", Richard J. Schaeffer stated. GE Healthcare's eHealth Information Exchange provides the infrastructure for HIEs in Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, and, most notably, the KeyHIE exchange in central Pennsylvania developed by Geisinger Health System.

"By encouraging the adoption of health care IT, St. Clair Hospital is demonstrating its strength in leadership and is taking its place alongside other leading health care organisations across the nation", stated Jim Corrigan, vice president and general manager of GE Healthcare IT. "We're in the midst of a changing, complex health care environment and it takes the unwavering commitment and dedication of customers like St. Clair to implement comprehensive solutions that can truly enhance patient care."

St. Clair Hospital and its physicians plan to use the new system to meet federally-stipulated "meaningful use" requirements, the final rules of which were unveiled July 13 in Washington, D.C. St. Clair's implementation of the system will begin in August.

Physicians with Fatigati/Nalin Associates, which, along with PPCP, is one of the South Hills' largest primary care providers, will be among the first doctors to use St. Clair Hospital's new synthesized EHR. "My colleagues and I are looking forward to the benefits that this system will provide", stated Mario J. Fatigati, M.D. "In particular, the enhancements to patient care and patient safety are what our doctors like most about this huge leap in health care technology."

St. Clair Hospital is an independent, acute care facility that provides advanced, high quality health care to more than 400.000 residents of southwestern Pennsylvania. With 550 physicians and more than 2000 employees, St. Clair is the largest employer in Pittsburgh's South Hills. Providing virtually every health care service that residents might need throughout their lives, the hospital combines advanced technologies with exceptional medical expertise to ensure that the community's health needs are met.

Preferred Healthcare Informatics (PHI), a division of Preferred Primary Care Physicians (PPCP), delivers EHR consulting solutions across the continuum of adoption - from assessing a practice's readiness for EHR, to driving return on investment through pay-for-performance. PHI brings real-world physician practice experience to the table. Real physicians, office staff, and IT professionals apply their knowledge and experience to the EHR implementation.

Preferred Primary Care Physicians (PPCP) was founded in 1995 by 10 primary care physicians in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. These physicians shared a common commitment to provide the highest quality care to the patients they served. To that end, the group initiated quality improvement programmes, participated in research studies to advance primary care practice, and implemented electronic health records (EHR) well before most other practices. Today, PPCP consists of 32 board-certified physicians specializing in internal medicine and family practice. PPCP has 17 practice locations in the South Hills and two locations in Uniontown, Fayette County.

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Its broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help the customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, the company partners with health care experts striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable health care systems. More company news can be found in this VMW issue's article GE and Intel to form new health care joint venture.


Source: St. Clair Hospital

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