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Winona Health’s Electronic Medical Records honored (01/19/2005)
Winona Health's Community Memorial Hospital received a Minnesota Hospital Association's Innovation in Patient Care Award for its Community-wide Integrated Electronic Medical Record (EMR). The award was given at MHA's Awards Banquet, held January 14 in Plymouth.

"Every year we receive many worthy entries for the annual awards," noted John Manning, MHA's director of communication. "" [O]ur judges found the material we received about your nominee to be one of the most impressive of all."

Winona's community-wide, integrated EMR is a rare innovation in a rural community and small health system. The implementation of this system was four years in the planning and involved the work of many: "It was a vision by area physicians and the hospital to have all information about our patients in the same database," explained Mike Allen, Winona Health CFO. "A single EMR database would be accessible wherever the patient may be and would move with the patient through the health system."

Winona Health -- working with Cerner, a healthcare software company, Family Medicine of Winona P.A. and Winona Clinic -- began making this vision a reality in 2000. By February of 2002, Family Medicine and Winona Health's Rushford Clinic were piloting the integrated EMR software. A year later, CMH "went live" with the medical record software, and Winona Clinic implemented the software in the spring of 2004. So Winona area patients' medical records now are accessible to healthcare providers throughout the community.

EMR improves patient care

"This integrated EMR improves the quality of care we provide with its instantaneous documentation of and accessibility to patient information," Allen emphasized. "Quick access to patient information through all healthcare entry points is a definite benefit to our community."

Dr. William Davis, partner in Family Medicine and Winona Health's medical director for health information, already has seen the value of the EMR, which allows him to track patient data and generate prescriptions in the exam room, triggering pharmacy orders.

But "the biggest benefit," he noted, "is immediate access to patient records any place, any time. I have patients calling me at home, and I look at their record: It's right there. It's hard to beat that. And electronic prescribing is a huge advantage. All patient meds are listed on the record; the interactions are documented; it avoids errors."

The community-wide EMR also means better healthcare services for Winona area residents entering CMH's Emergency Department (ED). After a quick registration, all information entered from previous clinic, hospital, and outpatient visits automatically is displayed on ED computers -- from allergies and medications to lab results. So ED staff know they have access to a patient's most recent health data, allowing them to determine any changes in the patient's health status.

As Dr. Davis noted, "The EMR allows us to get the most current patient information anytime, anywhere " This is beneficial."

EMR aligns with national health goals

Integrated community health systems also are aligned with current national health goals: Dr. David Brailer, the government's health IT coordinator, has publicly emphasized the role communities play in creating an interconnected health system. He believes that "community data exchanges" are the key building blocks to a wired national healthcare system.

To ensure its integrated health system not only improves patients' outcomes but also respects their privacy, Winona Health, its affiliates, and the two independent physician clinics formed a joint healthcare organization to ensure HIPAA compliance throughout the newly integrated system.

"We've put something together in Winona that is far more powerful than an integrated electronic medical record," Allen explained. "It has connected our community and improved how we provide patient care."

Allen and Dr. Davis accepted the MHA Innovation in Patient Care Award on behalf of Winona Health. Also receiving an Innovation Award in the small hospitals category was St. Joseph's Area Health Services for its Community Dental Clinic Program. 

 

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