Rochester General Hospital Goes Electronic

More than 500,000 patients representing 11 counties in and around Rochester, N.Y., will benefit from a $65 million dollar upgrade that will turn “old fashioned” paper files into electronic ones.

It wasn’t that long ago that the concept of paperless medical files was met with a bit of skepticism: just the thought of converting all that information from paper to digital would be a daunting task. And what about the risk of identity fraud? Those questions are still valid, but for Rochester General Hospital, like Strong Memorial Hospital and Clifton Springs Hospital before it, the answer is there in black and white.

According to the Rochester-Genesee Valley Healthcare newspaper, the new “Care Connect” electronic medical records system will convert all of Rochester General Hospital’s paper and computer-based files into a single integrated electronic system. As a result, information that was once compiled on charts and clipboards will now be annotated on iPods and laptops.

Although it was a year in the making, the file conversion of Rochester General Hospital is merely the latest in a long line of top medical centers relying on electronic files that includes Mount Sinai Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic. What’s more, by 2013, Rochester General hopes to have converted all of their paper charts plus some independent computer based records to the Care Connect system.

Although some administrative personnel feel that electronic files are cost efficient only for larger organizations, the reality seems to be that the system is fast proving its worth as being extremely user-friendly. Case in point: According to an article on Rochester, patients can access a website connected to the Care Connect filing system at their home computers, allowing them to schedule an office visit, fill a prescription or even ask a question to a healthcare provider.

According to a news release on Rochester, protecting patient confidentiality is a major component of the Care Connect system. All of the data in the EMR is encrypted and password protected, so access to a patient’s information is strictly limited only to those who are authorized.

In addition, Rochester General Health System is partnering with many community physicians to assure they have, with the patient’s explicit permission, access to the patient’s most up-to-date records to further improve clinical outcomes and quality of care.

And because other hospitals in Rochester are also moving to electronic medical record technology, sharing of patient information between file systems will be greatly simplified.

The digital revolution is in full swing and nowhere is that more evident than at Rochester General Hospital.

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