LSU Health Launches Electronic Health Records System
SHREVEPORT—Paper medical records this week were replaced by iPads and touchscreens at LSU Health Shreveport as the LSU Health System became the first statewide, public health care network in the UnitedStates to deploy electronic health records at its hospitals and physician clinics.
Dubbed PELICAN for Patient Electronic Health Information and Care Network, the transition to digital records marks the end of using traditional paper charts and the beginning of what is known as “one patient, one chart.”
“LSU Health’s electronic health records (EHR) project is an exceptional achievement,” said LSU System President Dr. John Lombardi. “The widespread availability of common medical records will enable much more effective utilization of health care resources within LSU Health network of clinics and hospitals, permitting the implementation of fully coordinated care for the more than 500,000 patients we treat every year.”
Lombardi also stressed the impact on medical research. “The availability of the health care data to clinicians and nurses will permit extensive research on effective medical treatments that are of interest to funding agencies and scientists at our two major medical education centers and at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center,” he said, adding, “In short, this is a major accomplishment made possible by the strong support from the federal government, the Legislature, Governor Bobby Jindal, and the entire LSU Health enterprise.”
LSU Health Shreveport Chancellor Robert A. Barish, MD, emphasized electronic medical records enhance quality of care by making all patient information, ranging from medical histories to lab tests, such as X-Rays and MRIs, as well as prescriptions and even dietary needs, immediately available at any LSU hospital or clinic around the state.
With a keystroke, medical staff at an LSU Health facility can quickly and securely access any LSU patient record. Medication allergies, potential interactions, dosage concerns and other flags will pop up to ensure safe treatment. With all results kept in one electronic file, duplication of medical tests can be virtually eliminated.
“With the increasing complexity and rapidly expanding information in healthcare today, transitioning from paper to electronic records is a national priority and essential to the delivery of the highest quality of care,” said Dr. Fred Cerise, LSU System Vice President for Health Affairs and Medical Education.
Cerise noted PELICAN stands apart among similar EHR systems as smaller public and private health care providers in the United States because of the comprehensive, reach of the LSU Health System.
“The statewide implementation of an electronic health record through the LSU Health System is a major accomplishment and another demonstration of the value that this organized and coordinated network of care givers brings to the citizens of Louisiana,” Dr. Cerise said.
Dr. Cerise added PELICAN also makes medical care safer and more cost effective because it reduces duplication and the potential for errors while it speeding up treatment. Physicians can even view imaging and test results at the patient’s bedside, using rolling computer stations. Password-protected records are also accessible via laptop computers and iPads.
“Our clinicians can use iPhones and iPads to view patient data, make clinical decisions wherever they are. Patients, meanwhile, can use a component called ‘My Chart’ that allows them to accesstheir medical data via a web browser to check test results and even make appointments, making it possible for any LSU patient to directly participate in their own care,” according to Marcus Hobgood, Chief Information Officer for LSU Health Shreveport.
“Overall, the EHR system gives doctors better tools for taking care of patients whileproviding patients with better tools for monitoring their own healthcare,” said Lee Bairnsfather, PhD., LSU System Assistant Vice President for Information and Technology.
LSU began studying electronic health records (EHR) as long as 10 years ago, according to Bairnsfather. In 2006, planning began in earnest. Acquiring $86 million in federal stimulus funds and $33 million in state funding, however, were major steps in actually getting PELICAN off the ground.
Going digital required more than 3,200 LSU Health workers to undergo thousands ofhours of training not only to create the electronic infrastructure that supports the system but in implementing the new technology in a previously paper-bound domain.
Backers say PELICAN also significantly strengthens LSU Health’s safety net role, especially during emergencies such as hurricanes.
When Hurricane Katrina hit, hundreds of patients were evacuated from New Orleansarea hospitals, many without their paper medical records. Doctors at receiving hospitals and shelters had little or no information on medical histories, medicines or past treatments. PELICAN now makes that information available immediately, at any LSU Health facility and eventually through the planned Louisiana Health Information Exchange (LaHIE) that could electronically link private providers to the LSU EHR system on a case-by-case basis.
“Pelican will provide better capability for taking care of patients when they’re displaced following a disaster,” said Bairnsfather. “Imagine that you’re a cancer patient after Hurricane Katrina and you’re displaced and another doctor is taking care of you. How will that doctor know what chemotherapy drugs you were taking? Pelican can fix that.”
For Dr. Hugh Mighty, LSU Health Shreveport Vice Chancellor for Clinical Affairs, PELICAN provides the possibility of nearly universal access for LSU patients within Louisiana.
“The value of this system for us is that it provides 24-hour access to patient records whether you’re in Shreveport or New Orleans. So regardless of where a patient travels we will be able to get their medical information in a timely manner, which, inturn, will help us do better with patient safety by allowing patients to move freely within our system.”
Initial deployment of PELICAN covers LSU Health hospitals and clinics in North Louisiana. Hospitals and clinics in South Louisiana, including New Orleans, are scheduled to be connected to the system over thenext 18 months.