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Paperless health care? One hospital's long journey

Posted Jul 10 2009 10:46pm

My local paper had a great story from Associated Press the other day about Childrens Hospital of Pittsburgh and their journey towards a paperless medical record.  They (correctly) see this transition as a process and not buying software and flipping a switch.  They have realized a drop in medication errors of 45% since 2002, but also have a lesson learned about patients trasferred in from other hospitals to their ICU.  Their lesson from the five months after the switch to paperless was that the death rate doubled during the perilous time of the hand-off because of their well organized routine. 

Those who are about to look at their own implementation should address:

  • the need for patients being registered en route to avoid delays in medication orders

  • increases in time to click through unfamiliar software (perhaps assign your most familiar staff to these cases)

  • having wireless computers at the bedside for these new admits.

One of the mom' s was intereviewed and reports how the electronic system has made a difference by her not having to haul x-rays around to doctors and a new ease in making specialist appointments.  However, she is also concerned bcause her doctor' s practice (affiliated with the hospital) is only partly digital and next year will buy a new system that doesn' t talk to the hospital system........!

OK, I know.  It is a process, a journey and there will be some bumps in the road.  But, in the end we will arrive!  I just know we will!

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