Sutter Health Will Implement Nation's Most Advanced Electronic Health Record with Patient Access Over the Next Few Years
Network expects to be the first regional health care provider in Northern California to bring EHR online
SACRAMENTO, Calif., Oct. 28, 2004 - As the national debate continues to wage over how best to take health care delivery to the next level in this country, Sutter Health has made a commitment to deploy an electronic health record (EHR) system networkwide over the next few years. The inpatient-outpatient system, which will be one of the first in the United States to include secure patient access to EHR data, will be completed years ahead of the national EHR deadline set by the current White House administration. Sutter Health also expects to be the first regional health care provider in Northern California to implement a comprehensive EHR system.
This newest commitment expands on EHR technology already benefiting patients within five Sutter-affiliated physician organizations and hospitals. Sutter's aggressive online system will electronically connect more than 5,000 physicians, 27 hospitals and millions of patients across its not-for-profit Northern California network.
Advocated strongly by such industry organizations as the Pacific Business Group on Health, the Institute of Medicine and The Leapfrog Group, an EHR can improve efficiency in care delivery and help reduce health care costs by powerfully combining all inpatient and outpatient data into a single computerized system. It can put each patient's most up-to-date health history at their caregivers' fingertips - no matter where the patient receives care.
"Our EHR will be one of the most comprehensive and patient-centric systems ever implemented in the United States," says John Hummel, Sutter Health senior vice president and chief information officer. "In a very short period of time, physicians and other professionals across our network will be able to better coordinate care through immediate online access to secure medical and patient data, including the very latest radiology, lab and pharmacy results. Just as important, patients will be able to view their personal health records and interact online with their physicians."
Sutter's physicians agree that the EHR will help make care more efficient and safe by not only making real-time data available to physicians, but by sharing the same personal health information with patients. "Informed patients make better decisions. Our comprehensive EHR will uniquely allow patients to view their own health histories and test results online. With this powerful tool, physicians and patients can better work together to develop appropriate treatment plans," says Gordon Hunt, M.D., Sutter Health senior vice president and chief medical officer.
Sutter's history in EHR development
Creating electronic health records throughout Sutter Health's network of 27 hospitals, six medical foundations, and 11 independent physician associations, is not new practice for this integrated health system. Sutter-affiliated Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF) has been using an EHR since 1999. Powerful decision-support tools incorporated in the EHR system alert physicians about potential drug interactions and remind them about clinical guidelines relevant to their patients. In 2002, via PAMFOnline, PAMF was one of the first medical groups in the country to connect patients with their electronic health record. Paul Tang, M.D., chief medical information officer of PAMF, chaired the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on Data Standards for Patient Safety and has been working closely with Congress and the Administration to help accelerate the adoption of EHR systems nationwide. He says, "Implementing an EHR system across the entire Sutter enterprise is the most effective way to enhance patient safety and to coordinate care across the health care continuum."
Sutter Gould Medical Foundation in Modesto; Sutter Medical Foundation in Sacramento; Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento; Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae; and Novato Community Hospital also have been using EHR technology.
Sutter's investment and implementation timeline
Sutter Health's $154 million investment in its new EHR technology is in addition to the $1.2 billion technology outlay that this family of not-for-profit hospitals and physician organizations will make in a broad range of patient safety initiatives over the next 10 years, including bar-coding technology for safe bedside administration of medications, digital imaging and computerized physician order entry.
"Our professionals are raising the bar on patient safety and satisfaction by eliminating inefficient procedures and providing better support systems for both the physician and the patient," says Van R. Johnson, president and CEO of Sutter Health. "Sutter's significant investment in advanced technology over then next 10 years will fundamentally reduce costs, eliminate the possibility of duplicative procedures or tests, reduce medical errors, and ensure true coordination of care between physicians and patients," he says.
The network has chosen Wisconsin-based Epic Systems Corporation, one of the of the largest, most progressive health care information organizations in the nation, as its technology partner in its EHR initiative.
How it works
With Sutter's EHR system, physicians will have a comprehensive view of both inpatient and outpatient data beginning with an office visit, an emergency room visit or a hospital admission. Real-time data will include lab test results, medication histories and physician notes from any Sutter facility. Patients also will have access to a secure Internet site to request prescription renewals, schedule physician appointments, view their personal health history, send a message to their doctor, or access health information pertaining to their diagnosis. Finally, Sutter Health's new integrated patient record will uniquely include state-of-the-art patient safety systems like bar coding for patient/drug identification and other computerized bedside technology to reduce medical errors.