Upstate Hospital Streamlines Patient Data to Provide More Efficient Health Care

May 9, 2014

Upstate University Hospital is hoping to save time and money for both its health care centers and its patients through technology. The institution has reached a milestone implementing Electronic Medical Records.  

Overseeing the EPIC initiative, the electronic system that stores patient medical records for about half of the population, at Upstate’s Community Campus are, from left, Chief Nursing Officer Nancy Page, Community Campus Chief Administrative Officer Nancy Daoust and Community Campus Director of Nursing Sharon Klaiber, in the Epic Command Center at Community Campus.
Credit Upstate University Hospital's website
 As of this week, Upstate has an elaborate data system, covering patient medications, tests and procedures, other medical history, allergies and  more for every patient.  And the EMR system is fully functional at all facilities, including the Community Campus, the former Community General Hospital.  As Chief information Officer, Terry Wagner is pretty thick into all the computers and software.  And all that data can solve health issues, she said.  

 “If you've been identified as having a particular drug allergy when you were in a clinic visit.  And the physician's in the process of ordering a drug for you, and that's the drug that you're allergic to.  The system will alert the physicians.  But there's all kinds of examples that the system alerts physicians,” Wagner said.  

 It also can show if you had certain tests, so they don’t get administered again even across many different doctor’s offices or hospitals.  Upstate is allowing patients access to records through a web portal called “My Chart,” which could even help with preventative medicine or if there’s a health problem while traveling.  But, Wagner said, EMR is not far enough along yet to really start seeing savings and efficiencies for the health system overall.  

 “Reduction of duplicate services is certainly leading us in that direction.  Overall efficiencies I think that are gained from front to back,” Wagner said.  But I can't really say that we have a lot of evidence yet.  We're farther along than we were for a couple of years, for sure.  So,  it's a little difficult to point to really hard data that says so many hospitals installed EMR's and drove health care cost down.”

 That’s coming.  But, Wagner said, the ability for doctors to get their hands on all of a patients records and history – even in times of emergency – will improve health care.  The system is the same or compatible with many health facilities across the country, she added.