Sutter Health Contributes $200,000 to Support Advanced EHR Technology at Salud Para la Gente
Computerized Medical Records Allow Doctors to Provide Even Better Care to Patients
SACRAMENTO, Calif., March. 7, 2007 – Sutter Health, in collaboration with the Santa Cruz Division of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), announced today that it is giving $200,000 to support the installation of an electronic health record (EHR) system at Salud Para la Gente, a federally funded Watsonville safety-net clinic. EHR technology allows health care providers to convert patients’ medical histories from paper into computerized records. It gives physicians and other approved caregivers immediate access to the most up-to-date, secure health information that can help them provide even better care.
“Sutter Health and Palo Alto Medical Foundation are committed to making quality health care services accessible to those who are most vulnerable financially,” said Patrick Fry, Sutter Health president and CEO. “Within Sutter Health, we’re investing in the EHR system to further improve clinical outcomes, enhance patient safety and help reduce the cost of high-quality care. We are proud to contribute to the clinic today to bring the same advanced health technology to this vital community resource in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties.”
Salud Para la Gente, a non-profit organization that provides low- or no-cost medical services to the area’s medically indigent and uninsured populations, served more than l8,500 patients last year amounting to 104,000 health visits. The network has six facilities. The grant from Sutter and PAMF, which will be used to establish an EHR system that is compatible with Santa Cruz County Health Services and other health care providers, will be administered by the Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust, a not-for-profit health care foundation serving the residents of Watsonville and the greater Pajaro Valley.
The Palo Alto Division of PAMF, a Sutter Health affiliate, implemented its EHR system in 1999, making it one of the nation’s earliest adopters of this technology. Secure EHR technology allows doctors and clinical staff at any PAMF facility to immediately access patient information, such as the most up-to-date medical histories and laboratory results from other PAMF facilities. An EHR system can improve patient safety by flagging potentially harmful drug interactions and by sending electronic prescriptions to pharmacies, reducing the risk of hard-to-read handwriting that may lead to medical errors.
With an EHR system, patients’ laboratory and X-ray results can be sent electronically to a physician as soon as they are completed for immediate analysis, diagnosis and treatment. It also allows doctors to document their interactions with patients, order tests and make referrals to specialists. Moreover, EHR technology can provide doctors with decision-support tools, including evidence-based recommendations for those providing care to patients with certain diseases. The technology includes preventive health tools. These tools use a patient’s personal medical history and nationally recommended screening guidelines to determine if or when a patient needs a test (e.g., Pap smear, mammogram or colonoscopy) or requires routine follow-up care for a chronic medical condition, such as diabetes.
Further, the EHR system allows physicians to take preventive measures for entire populations of patients, such as individuals with diabetes, because they have the tool they need to instantly search through hundreds of patient files and identify patients who need tests or other interventions.
Santa Cruz Medical Foundation, which is affiliated with PAMF and Sutter Health, launched its own electronic health records system last fall as part of Sutter’s multi-million-dollar EHR initiative across its Northern California network of hospitals, physician organizations and other health care service providers. The medical foundation expects all its medical offices and physicians to be online by the end of this year.
CEO, Pajaro Valley Community Health Trust
Director of Development, Salud Para la Gente
Acting CEO, Salud Para la Gente
Public Affairs Director, Palo Alto Medical Foundation
Director, Marketing & Philanthropy, Santa Cruz Medical Foundation
The Palo Alto Medical Foundation for Health Care, Research and Education is a not-for-profit health care organization that is a pioneer in both multispecialty group practice of medicine and outpatient medicine. The foundation has three health care divisions – the Palo Alto Division, the Camino Division and the Santa Cruz Division. PAMF is part of the Sutter Health family of not-for-profit physician organizations and hospitals that share resources and expertise to advance health care quality. Serving more than 100 communities in Northern California, Sutter Health is a regional leader in cardiac care as well as care of women and children, and is a pioneer in advanced patient safety technology. For more information, visit www.pamf.org.