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Electronic Health Records: December 25, 2011

With its start this summer at Gulf Coast Medical Center, Lee Memorial Health System launched a new, system wide records network, one that will eventually track patients’ medical moves across the health system. It’s part of a paperless revolution called Epic.

“Epic is an electronic health record and it’s really the only product that’s available that will store patients’ records electronically and provide the functionally needed not only for hospitals but also for physician offices and for home health and other care delivery settings,” says Mike Smith, chief information officer of Lee Memorial Health System.

As locations are added, hospital super-users like Betsy Groendyk are helping to train their peers. Electronic records are putting technology to work for the patient.

“Their record follows them everywhere. So we know if there's interactions that they had before, allergies, any questions that we that we have about medications we can look them up,” says Betsy Groendyk, an ICU educator with Lee Memorial Health System.

The system has the capacity to one day send electronic reminders to patients and even facilitating and tracking drug prescriptions.

“Often times it’s not clear what medications you may be on as a patient. The more information we have from that electronic interchange, the better we will know what medications you’re on, avoid medication-medication interactions, more importantly avoid overdoses of medications, says Smith.

People may worry that their health care history will no longer be written down, but in fact there are many redundant systems in place to make sure their records are safe and secure.

“It’s a very high reliability computer system which means within itself there is redundancy in the processing as well as the storage. In addition to that we run a second system that stays mirrored with the first system and it’s at another facility,” says Smith.

So a variety of steps are taken to protect this valuable paperless trail, so that patients can move about with confidence.