Ahead of the Game: Oklahoma Hospitals Advanced in Electronic Health Records Requirements

Article excerpt

In Oklahoma, a few local hospitals are ahead of complying with some portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires use of electronic medical records. Some hospital networks, such as Mercy and Integris, got started years before the contentious debate over health care reform started. However, some hospitals are still working on implementing their electronic records systems.

Di Smalley, Mercy regional president, said that all 64 clinics are using electronic medical records with the exception of the Watonga clinic, which was recently acquired. It takes only about 90 days after a new clinic is brought into the Mercy system to get it online, she said. Mercy sees the move to electronic records, which began in 2004, as a way to reduce costs and improve care, Smalley said

"In addition to quality and safety, it brings so much convenience to the system," she said.

A patient can access the MyMercy portal on any on tablet device or smartphone to see lab or test results, make appointments and reorder prescriptions. Without electronic medical records, that isn't really an option, Smalley said.

Integris also began its strategic plan to add electronic records in 2008, before the health care reform began in Congress. The implementation was boosted by funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, known as the stimulus bill. …