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New ER System Improves Patient Care

                              November 25, 2015

Arkansas City, KS – South Central Kansas Medical Center is two months into the implementation of a new electronic medical records system for its emergency department. The new system is designed to make the patient’s information more accessible to healthcare providers, both within the emergency department and for follow up care.

Arkansas City, KS – South Central Kansas Medical Center is two months into the implementation of a new electronic medical records system for its emergency department. The new system is designed to make the patient’s information more accessible to healthcare providers, both within the emergency department and for follow up care.

“We have the ability to have a singular system that communicates throughout the patient experience,” said John Jones, SCKMC’s Incoming Director of Nursing.

The hospital previously used paper charting for emergency room patients. That information then had to be uploaded into the patient’s medical record after the visit.

“This has eliminated a lot of extra paperwork. We no longer have to print out our provider, nursing, or lab documentation. It was always very time consuming, making the copies and sorting things out,” said Bonnie Schieber, RN and SCKMC’s team leader for the Emergency Department.

Hospital staff believe that the new system not only cuts down on paperwork, but also provides several improvements to the care process. More detailed record keeping, timely access to prior health information, and improved communication with both internal departments and the tele-hospitalist physicians are just a few of the improvements mentioned.

However, both Schieber and Jones believe the biggest improvement that will be noticed by the ER patient is the increased time spent by staff at the patient’s bedside.

“We are able to chart at the bedside rather than paper documentation which would usually be done at the nurse’s station. When we document at bedside we interact more with the patient. In the ER we are pretty fast paced, so anything that allows the opportunity for that one-on-one is a good thing,” Schieber said.


Jones agrees, “Listening to the patient is probably the single most important thing that we do. It is our most valuable diagnostic tool, to just simply listen to the patient. No physician or nurse will ever know that patient as well as that patient knows himself.”

Once an ER patient is admitted to the hospital, the new system allows all ER medical information to be available to those providing continuing care.

“(the system) is integrated. Doctors and nurses, respiratory therapy, lab, radiology, we can all see what is going on with the patient. Once the patient gets to med/surg, the nursing staff or the patient’s primary care doctor is able to pull up all of the ER information on a computer from that department. The doctors can see what the nurses have documented and the nurses are able to see what the doctors have documented,” Schieber said.

The next phase of SCKMC’s electronic medical records system is to connect it with the systems used in local physician offices. The connected systems would allow physicians access to patient’s hospital records from their office, and could eventually send notifications to the provider when one of their patients is treated in the ER or admitted to the hospital.

“Work is underway building that bridge. We will be able to eventually maximize our ability, not only to track and treat at a higher level, but also bill and be reimbursed faster and more accurately,” Jones said.