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PACHS Goes Live With New Electronic Medical Records

By Staff | Aug 18, 2015

Family Practice Clinics in Emmetsburg, Graettinger and West Bend will switching from paper patient charts to electronic charts this August. To accommodate electronic charting, the clinics are changing some of their processes that will benefit both the patients and the providers. In addition, a new patient portal will available for patients to have easy access to their own medical records.

Palo Alto County Hospital has had an electronic health record since 2008 which included records for patients in the hospital. This August, Family Practice Clinics, as well as Palo Alto County Hospital, will now have a new electronic health record that will include and coordinate patient medical files for hospital and clinic, financial services and purchasing services. This new program called CommunityWorks went live on Monday, Aug. 17. In addition, Community Health Services will go-live with their new electronic health record called HomeWorks/Road Notes on Aug. 31.

Amy Frields, ARNP, one of the medical providers at Family Practice Clinic in Emmetsburg and physician champion for our Electronic Health Record Conversion, commented, “CommunityWorks provides benefits to both the patient and the providers. One of the problems with a paper chart is that they can only be in one place at a time and there is a delay in getting new information into the chart. In the days following someone’s clinic visit, the patients’ charts travel from the clinician’s desk to the nurses’ desks to the filing clerks desk. The clinician dictates details about the office visit and that are then transcribed before being added to the chart.”

According to Frields, the electronic charts can be accessed from any computer in PACHS’s clinics or hospital, with a secure password. Details from the appointments will be entered into the electronic chart during the office visit, making them available in the chart immediately. With the new clinic process, most follow-up appointments will be scheduled with the patient while still in the exam room, providing increased privacy for the patient. Patients will be given a printed care plan at the end of the visit, detailing any future appointments, changes in prescriptions or other important information from the office visit. Additionally, Electronic Health Records also allows your medical information to be more accessible and easily transferred to other specialists or physicians when needed.

“This is a big undertaking for clinicians and clinic staff,” said Frields. “We are learning a whole new process for seeing patients in our clinics. In the first few weeks after the electronic record is implemented in each clinic, we expect it to take us longer with each patient so we are building that extra time into our schedule. It still means that you might spend more time in the exam room for your appointment, but hopefully it will not mean a long wait in the waiting room prior to the appointment. Since we will be populating your electronic chart for the first time, we are asking patients to bring over-the-counter and prescription medication and supplement bottles with you to your appointment. You will also need to have your insurance cards. “

Eventually, Frields expects each clinic to resume its normal schedule.