New inpatient medical records system enhances patient care

By on Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas: A new electronic medical record system to enhance patient care is coming to Wilford Hall Medical Center here.

Essentris is an electronic healthcare record management system which is specifically designed for inpatient care and will allow health care providers instant access to inpatient records between Wilford Hall Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center at nearby Ft. Sam Houston.

The system is being implemented in phases across the entire Department of Defense. Once fully implemented here, it will allow for more seamless care between WHMC and BAMC and will help standardize documentation and improve efficiency.

“Information that is input into the system becomes immediately available to other team members at any terminal in the facility so that a nutritionist, pharmacist, physical therapist or other consultant can all access the same record and assist in the care of the patient,” said Col. Markham Brown, the deputy chief of medical staff for the 59th Medical Wing.

“It will facilitate accurate communication for the care of inpatients between all members of the medical team, such as providers, nurses, technicians and other ancillary personnel,” Colonel Brown said.

“Essentris allows us to have an inpatient medical records system that can be accessed from either WHMC or BAMC, as we will share the same technology platform, improving real time access to inpatient information and patient safety,” said Maj. Jay Ludescher, the 59th MDW chief information officer.

According to Colonel Brown, important data such as vital signs, lab studies, x-rays and other information are all fed into the system to help give an accurate picture of what is going on with each patient.

“Upon discharge, important information with respect to the care of the patient during their hospital stay, such as the discharge summary, the operation report and other information, can be reviewed during follow-up care in the clinic, and thereby improve the care of that patient,” Colonel Brown said.

Some high interest areas the system will encompass are critical care, acute care, labor and delivery, postpartum, nursery, medical surgical and emergency departments.

Even though Essentris can access a patient’s medical records, it is not a replacement for the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application, or AHLTA, database system. Essentris is dedicated to inpatient records, whereas AHLTA is used for outpatient records.

“The system is user friendly and easy to use,” said Capt. Mark Jimenez, a psychiatric nurse in the 59th MDW inpatient psychiatric ward, the first unit to use the new data system.

Many providers already are familiar with the system so the transition will not require a lot of changes, according to Ruth Liggins, Essentris training specialist. Training is under way and will continue until January 2011.

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