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October 11, 2017 - 'One patient, one record:' USA Health unifies medical records


USA Health has transitioned to record-keeping unity within the system, reaching the goal of “one patient, one record.”

Termed the Unity project, the endeavor involved transitioning from five different electronic medical records systems and three different revenue cycle systems into one coordinated system that touches every part of USA Health.

“This transition gives our employees an integrated system that helps them do their job in an efficient manner so that ultimately they can focus on providing the best possible care to patients,” said Owen Bailey, chief executive officer at USA Health.

Unity, by design, makes care more convenient and safer for patients and at the same time empower providers. Representatives from every corner of USA Health have been working on the project since its inception, ensuring that each area would benefit from the change. Joining the USA Health staff was a team of expert consultants from around the country who combined familiarity with the new system and expertise in various phases of healthcare.

Cerner – the largest health care IT company in the world – built its system around best practices, incorporating methods that work well for health care systems around the nation. These methods were then tailored to USA Health’s needs. During the transition process, the team reviewed current procedures to see what was unique to USA and therefore needed to be localized, and also found places where USA Health would be better served by changing its procedures to conform to best practices.

Once the system was localized for USA, the next step was testing – looking at the adaptations Cerner made and making sure the actual system accomplished the goals envisioned during the development process.

The new Unity system affects everyone in USA Health. While Unity represents a step forward for everyone, for some it will be leaps and bounds. Emergency and surgery, for example, were still keeping records on paper.

Another feature of the new system is that it incorporates an additional level of safety each time medications are administered. The physician order will be matched with both the drug itself and the patient identification band. The system will question anything that doesn’t match or that doesn’t conform to best practices. The provider can override the computer, but they will have to stop and evaluate.

The key change for patients, however, are the simplified records. Before the switch, a patient who first visits a clinic and is then admitted to the hospital for tests has to fill out complete information at each place – allergies, medications, history and more. In the new system, the patient provides the information only once and simply verifies it at the next stop, saving time for both patient and caregiver. Moreover, once the information is in the system, it’s available quickly if the patient goes to the emergency room or visits a different clinic.

The convenience is a real benefit for a cancer patient, for example, who may see a primary care physician, have a hospital stay and receive treatment at USA Mitchell Cancer Institute, all in a relatively short span of time. The new system integrates care and billing.

In addition, patients can now access their health records online via a personalized patient portal, as well as make online payments.

Bailey said the continued commitment shown by USA Health staff was vital during the Unity implementation process. “These tools represent not only a change to our applications but also an improvement to our processes, efficiency, and the potential for what we can achieve together,” he said. “I'd like to thank our employees for their hard work and commitment to this important effort, and for all that they do for USA Health and for those they serve.”

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