Uvalde Memorial Hospital Stays Abreast With Health Reform

New health information system implemented September 1.

Uvalde Memorial Hospital, along with hospitals and physicians across the nation, has begun implementation of an electronic health information system.

The system is among the requirements of the Affordable Care Act signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.

The Electronic Health Records, or EHR, section of the Affordable Care Act will ultimately require healthcare providers throughout the field to become 100 percent electronic.

“Basically, the government is requiring implementation of electronic health information systems by providers throughout the medical field,” said Linda Walker, hospital physician services administrator, explaining the new mandate.

Uvalde Memorial Hospital will officially implement phase 1 of the EHR mandates on Sept. 1. On this date, the hospital will begin using a new electronic health information system called Meditech 6.0.

Hospital employees have undergone much training in anticipation of the changeover, but effects of the transition to the new system may potentially be seen by patients during the weeks of Sept. 1 – Sept. 16.

During this time, documentation adjustments may cause slightly longer wait times in the emergency room, radiology, laboratory, and registration departments. In addition, bills and billing information may also be delayed for services provided during this time. To minimize the effects, patients should bring all medications with them for any services.

“Despite the delayed processes, exceptional patient care will remain the number-one priority of Uvalde Memorial Hospital throughout the transition,” Jim Buckner, hospital administrator and CEO, said.

And the transition will definitely benefit patients in the long run.

“These systems will enhance patient care through increased accessibility to patient information across medical settings,” Walker said.

“For example, information entered into a patient’s record during an emergency room visit can be accessed by their family physician at a regular checkup at a later date,” she added.

“Ultimately, these systems will allow for ease of access, a continuum of care, and streamlined treatment for patients,” Buckner explained.

“There are several phases to the EHR mandate and reimbursement incentives will be offered to those who meet the required implementation deadlines; those who don’t, will be penalized,” Walker said. Penalties for failure to comply include reduced payment and reimbursement from Medicare.

This is just one of many phases that will take place to reach the ultimate goal of becoming 100 percent electronic, decreasing potential for error and increasing patient safety and quality of care.

For additional information on the project, contact Karla Radicke at 830-278-6251 ext. 1507.