A $3 million grant has been recently awarded to the Golden Valley Health Centers in order to assist the implementation of their electronic medical records system. The EMR system is expected to be in place by early next year. The results anticipated include a decrease in medical errors.
The grant was announced in June and Golden Valley was a leading agency for that grant. The EMR grant was provided by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and included five additional health centers located in the Central Valley. The funded project is being headed by Golden Valley’s chief information officer, Ray Parris. At this juncture, various EMR software solutions are being evaluated, according to Parris.
Evaluating EMR Software
The criteria that is being used to evaluate potential software for EMR implementation is based on company track records in both the state of California and the medical field. The chosen company will also need to be well-established. This is due to the fact that, currently, there are more vendors than can be supported in the long-term. The aim of the project is to have a software vendor that will still be in business five years from now.
It’s been acknowledged that the adoption of an EMR system will not be quick or simple. However, the end results will be well worth the effort when considering the reduction in medical errors. This is because the current paper system is too slow and can be subject to medical mistakes, according to Parris.
Once the EMR provider companies are reviewed, a proposal request will be initiated. The actual EMR system should begin construction in February or March of 2011.
Potential EMR Issues
Other healthcare agencies are addressing issues with the implementation of their own systems. California Healthline, a provider of a daily opinion, policy and news digest, has reported problems with the EMR implementation at the San Francisco Dept. of Public Health. These issues may include document loss relating to millions of dollars worth of services.
Successful EMR Pilot Program
A pilot EMR program was originally started in Golden Valley over two years ago at five different clinics. Parris pointed out that the pilot program, “was successful”. “No information has been reported lost.” The same is true for Mercy Medical Center, located in Merced. The director of Health Information Management at Mercy, Loretta Stuart-Edgerton, stated that she is unaware of any negative issues related to EMR, since its implementation in May of 2009. At Mercy, 34 employees have been working on document encoding and no problems have been reported.