Kaiser Permanente Completes Implementation of Outpatient EHR

Tuesday, May 6, 2008 General News
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OAKLAND, Calif., May 5 Kaiser Permanente announced todaythat all of its 8.7 million members in nine states and the District ofColumbia are now covered by an outpatient electronic health record. KaiserPermanente HealthConnect(TM), is the world's largest privately fundedelectronic health record.

All of Kaiser Permanente's 13,000 physicians now have electronic access totheir patients' medical records in every one of their 421 medicaloffices/clinics. Deployment of KP HealthConnect(TM) began in April 2004 inHawaii and concluded this month in Northern California -- completing thisambitious effort in just four years. This milestone reinforces KaiserPermanente's position as the industry leader in leveraging health informationtechnology to improve patient care and service.

"Electronic medical records are a cornerstone tool for improving qualityand safety in health care. Doctors should have all of the information aboutall of their patients all of the time. Only a computer and an EMR can do thatwork," said George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of KaiserFoundation Health Plan and Hospitals. "That's true during normal work hoursand it's even more true in off hours and times of crisis. During the 2007wildfires in San Diego as our care facilities within the fire lines wereclosed, members were contacted and directed to other open facilities. Whenthey arrived, care teams whom they may have never seen before had full accessto their records via KP HealthConnect. We can now ensure continuity of carefor our members in a time of crisis with this database."

The deployment of KP HealthConnect has proven to be integral to improvingpatient safety, coordination of care, enhancing documentation, facilitatingclinical decision making and adherence to evidence-based clinical guidelines,and provider and operational efficiency. After the implementation of KPHealthConnect in the outpatient setting, Kaiser Permanente experienced animmediate and marked increase in the efficiency of outpatient care, in largepart due to now 24/7 availability of members' clinical information at everymember contact. Members began using secure messaging and increased use oftelephone visits in lieu of in-person visits. Physicians reported that, inmany cases, electronic health records enabled them to identify and resolvepatients' health issues in the first contact. One survey showed that, with theuse of electronic health records, medication administration times and doseswere more legible and correct (85 percent), and clinicians believed theelectronic medication administration system provided a safer and more reliablecommunication tool (75 percent).

"The implementation of a system this complex, this broadly and deeply inan organization of our size is unprecedented, so I am extremely proud of thisaccomplishment," said Jack Cochran, MD, executive director, The PermanenteFederation. "But I see this milestone as the starting line. We have thesetools, and now we need to learn how to use them to transform the delivery ofhealth care, so it is no longer about how many appointments we make, but abouthow many problems we solve."

In addition to the outpatient medical record, 13 of Kaiser Permanente's36 California hospitals are fully deployed, ensuring that 3.2 million membersare guaranteed full access to their comprehensive health information,regardless of how and when they need medical care -- whether in the exam room,online, or in the emergency room. Kaiser Permanente's aggressiveimplementation schedule will continue in 2008, with 14 additional hospitalsslated to roll out KP HealthConnect's inpatient capabilities by the end of theyear. Kaiser Permanente's members also have access to My healthmanager -- Kaiser Permanente's personal health record -- where they can takeadvantage of critical time-saving features, including online appointmentscheduling and prescription refills. In add

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