The University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System has been recognized for its advanced adoption of electronic medical records technology by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and is now among the 10 percent of U.S. hospitals with paperless patient records.
UI Hospital is in an elite group designated stage six by the society, says Audrius Polikaitis, chief information officer for UI Health. Polikaitis expects UI Health to achieve stage seven status-the highest designation-in 2014.
"We have been focusing on transitioning to electronic medical records since the mid 1990's, so this is an achievement that has been a long time in the making," he said.
Electronic health-record systems create a single, comprehensive, continuous medical record for patients regardless of how they entered the hospital and where in the UI Health system they received their care. A physician can see all of a patient's medical information as it accumulates in real time.
Hospitals at stage six have paperless medical records. All imaging films and photos are digitized and maintained electronically. Physicians and other professionals enter all orders electronically. Automatic alerts warn of any order that might conflict with a patient's allergies or other medical condition.
"If a doctor enters a medication for a patient, but the dosage is high for someone with compromised kidney function, the system will alert the doctor, and the order can be adjusted," Polikaitis said.
Bar codes play a large part in the electronic system. All medications, as well as each nurse and patient, have their own bar codes, which are scanned to ensure that the proper medication is being given to the right patient, and a record is generated.
"All the electronic systems are in place to improve patient safety and help the hospital function more efficiently." Polikaitis said.