BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – A $2 million technology upgrade at Fort Madison Community Hospital will result in a more streamlined user experience and will include some new bells and whistles.
According to Shane Tapper, Chief Information Officer at FMCH, the new Integrated Electronic Health Record system will come on line July 2 for customers and will create one user portal instead of the two separate portals being used for patients at the hospital and patients of Fort Madison Community Hospital Clinics.
“There was a disconnect accessing information,” Tapper said. “We have two portals, one for the patients at the hospital and one for the doctor’s offices and with this upgrade we’re creating one portal where patients can have access to all their medical information at the facility.”
The upgrade required an investment of several years of time and resources ultimately culminating in a $2 million price tag.
The hospital used the consulting services of Navin, Haffty and Associates of Massachusetts, to help bring the tech upgrade online.
Tapper said FMCH leadership started thinking about streamlining the information process several years ago and then started researching software and the other resources the hospital would need. Then in 2017 the decision was made to integrate the two systems using Meditech software
“We felt it was the right time to make this investment into our future. By integrating our electronic health record systems into one, we will be able to provide better continuity of care leading to improved safety. It facilitates communication between the clinic and the hospital care teams,” Tapper said.
Another feature that will be included in the transition will be a link to renew prescriptions.
Madonna Spurgin of Navin, Haffty said this will simplify the process for end users in getting prescriptions filled
“This will help take the frustration and time out of getting patients prescriptions refilled. They can enter information about the medicine and then the doctors will be able to review that and forward it to area pharmacies. It will help reduce having to call doctors or nurses and then have them call you back, or leave messages that take time to return,” she said.
Paul McAtee, a specialist with Navin, Haffty said the process took more than a year but he said the staff at FMCH were very helpful in getting the system installed.
Tapper said at one point or another almost all staff was involved in the upgrade.
“We even had facilities people come in who were there to help move equipment around. They just came in and said we’re here to help, what do you need us to do. So I think just about everyone was involved in this.”
FMCH CEO Jeremy Alexander wrote in a press release on the new system that it was a team effort getting the upgrade ready to go.
“We had a team of employees throughout the organization dedicated to working on this project. The amount of effort and commitment they’ve put forward has been amazing to witness. As we prepare to go live on July 1st, we ask our patients to please allow for extra time when registering and recognize that our employees are getting used to the new system. We want to make sure we capture your information accurately and provide you with the very best service and care possible. We thank you for understanding,” explained Jeremy Alexander, CEO, FMCH.
He said the biggest takeaway for patients is that now they can access all their records in one place on the MyHealth Patient Portal beginning Monday. He said additional upgrades may including simplified billing processes, but didn’t know when those upgrades would be made.
“Patients will now have one record that includes both their clinic visits with our FMCH providers and any services provided on the hospital side which includes emergency room visits, radiology tests, laboratory tests and inpatient stays.”
Patients who have a hospital patient portal account will continue to use their current sign in information. The new MyHealth Patient Portal will allow users to view and monitor their health information, view test results, contact their care team, manage their appointments and request prescription refills. Patients who had a patient portal account through the FMCH Clinics only, will need to set up a new MyHealth Patient Portal account on the FMCH website, www.fmchosp.com.