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Issue #2004 - 02 (February 2004)
(Updated Feb. 9, 2004)


Michigan Health System Introduces New Technology to Emergency Departments
Source: "Latimer, Jennifer"

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, Ann Arbor (SJMHS) will implement a new electronic information system specifically designed for use in emergency departments (ED) to fully automate the emergency departments in their hospitals in Ann Arbor, Saline and Howell, Michigan. SMHS has selected HEALTHMATICS® ED, a paperless, electronic system developed by A4 Health Systems® of Cary, North Carolina.

One of the most important features of the new system is its ability to improve the efficiency of the care delivery process in four significant ways. First, doctors, nurses and other caregivers will be able to simultaneously access patients' care information on multiple computer terminals. This is a major improvement because it will allow a physician to place an order at one computer terminal while a pharmacist collects the medication order, radiology begins processing an ultrasound order and a nursing supervisor can begin the process to assign a hospital room for admission - all at the same time.
"This simultaneous care delivery is possible because the new system is eliminating the paper shuffle," says Michael Mikhail, MD, chairman of Emergency Services for SJMHS. "In the past, we would have one chart that would have to be passed around to the various caregivers. Now it's a matter of clicking a computer keyboard to get the information a particular service needs - all at the same time."
Second, the system has the ability to further reduce potential medical errors. All orders and care plans are entered on a computer - eliminating hand written orders, one of the leading causes of medication errors. "St. Joseph Mercy Hospital introduced computer physician order entry in 1992, which as of January 2001 had reduced medication errors by 54 percent. The new HEALTHMATICS ED system compliments our current physician order entry system to provide additional safeguards against potential medical errors," says Gene Eavy, chief clinical services officer for SJMHS.

A third feature of efficiency is the elimination of repetitive questioning. For those patients who have previously visited one of the three hospital EDs, their medical history can easily be reviewed and updated if needed. Fourth, the system's "tracking board" feature will give ED staff a simple visual view of what needs to happen next for a specific patient, as well as an overall view of the department status. As things change quickly in the ED, staff can assess where resources need to be shifted to improve overall flow through the department.

"The benefits of this system are endless," says Julie MacDonald, COO and vice president of Patient Care for SJMHS. "It will be easier for the caregivers in the emergency department to readily access patient care information and expedite treatment, it will be easier for the patients' primary care physicians to receive information on the care their patients received in the ED, and it will provide caregivers "best practice" for a variety of conditions." Best practice is a term that refers to a plan of care for a specific condition that has been developed by a leading health authority. For example, if a patient presents with symptoms indicative of a heart attack, the system can instantly provide a checklist of questions developed by the American Heart Association to be asked by the caregiver when determining diagnosis and developing a plan of care.

Another benefit is the emergency departments of all three hospitals of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (St. Joseph Mercy Hospital - Ann Arbor, Saint Joseph Mercy Saline Hospital, Saint Joseph Mercy Livingston Hospital) will be on the same system. A patient could seek treatment at the Saline hospital ED and ten months later come to the Ann Arbor hospital ED. The staff will have access to the records from the previous ED visit in Saline.

Although the cost of the new paperless system is approximately $1.7 million, the clinical staff feels it is well worth it. "We have always been dedicated to providing our patients with remarkable care," says Dr. Mikhail. "Therefore we chose HEALTHMATICS ED system because it will improve our patients' experience through increased efficiency and decreased throughput times. And the system is another opportunity to further reduce potential medical errors."

A4 claims the country's largest Emergency Department Information System (EDIS) client base with the HEALTHMATICS ED and EMSTAT solutions. With 33 years of experience in healthcare technology, and a national client base of more than 600 healthcare facilities in acute care and ambulatory settings, the company is well positioned to continue its advancement within the healthcare market.

St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, Ann Arbor was one of the first to implement computer physician order entry system and remains one of only three percent of hospitals nationwide to have such a system in place. The system was later implemented at its Saline and Howell hospitals.

For more information: http://www.a4healthsystems.com

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