Multi-Site Ontario Community Hospital
A multi-site Ontario Community Hospital’s Emergency Department used hardcopy patient records that were becoming extremely labour intensive to manage. The department handled in excess of 50,000 visits per year. ER physicians required access to previous ER charts every time a patient came into Emergency, regardless of the severity or reason for the visit.
- Charts pulled were sometimes misplaced or not sent back for re-filing in a timely manner.
- All returned charts needed to be re-filed.
- An inordinate amount of time was spent looking for charts that were either not returned for filing or had not yet been re-filed.
- An additional FTE was required just to manage the paperwork.
A decision was made to digitize our Emergency charts. Our goal was to improve the availability of previous records in ER and to have current charts available in real time. Once a current chart is complete and signed off by the physician & nurse it is immediately digitized.
With input from ER physicians, terminals were strategically placed throughout the ER Department. Now Physicians have instant access to all Emergency charts, previous and current. Once charts are created, they are now digitized same day, within hours. With the new digital solution in place, the additional FTE was no longer required.
Added benefits that were not foreseen:
- Health Records now code and abstract from the digital copy. This provides a second pair of eyes on the digital copy and any that were previously misfiled are detected and corrected through this process.
- The Business Office used to receive a copy of the ER chart for billing purposes – but now bill directly from the digital copy. This permits the elimination of an unnecessary layer from our charts.
- By eliminating handling of hardcopy records in the Business Office, savings were achieved in time, staff reductions and forms elimination.
Additional benefits of the system:
- Family physicians, specialists, clinics, etc. have been given access to the digitized charts with appropriate permission levels. When a chart is requested, staff in Patient Registration can simply place a copy of the digitized chart on the requestors clipboard and not be concerned about getting the chart back or having to re-file it.
- As a multi-site organization, when ER charts are requested, they are immediately available digitally with no requirement to photocopy, fax or deliver the chart.
- College of Physicians and Surgeons can now review individual physician’s charts. No additional staff is required to pull or re-file these charts.