Hospital moving to electronic health records

By this time next year, the Henry Medical Center expects to have a new, computerized system for maintaining its patient records.

"Electronic health records makes it easier, faster and more efficient for doctors, nurses and technicians to communicate patient care," said Michelle Nunnally, the hospital's public relations specialist.

Lillian Fulton, who has spent the past five years in project management at the hospital, has been tapped as the new director of Clinical Informatics. Her task is to oversee the project.

"[The system] is trying to promote improved patient care, and the ability to measure that care," said Fulton, of Peachtree City. "This allows care providers to enter their orders electronically, which eliminates errors around illegible handwriting, as well as providing real-time information on the patient's condition," she said.

Fulton will help launch projects entitled Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) and Clinical Documentation, according to Nunnally.

"CPOE will allow physicians, nurses and other providers the ability to enter various orders directly into the hospital's system," said Nunnally. "Clinical Documentation will give nurses and other clinicians the capability of entering clinical findings, progress notes, decisions and actions directly into an electronic documentation system.

"Nurses and physicians documenting patient information through an electronic health record system, establishes one more way that Henry Medical Center offers quality care at the greatest level possible," Nunnally added.

The system will hold an unlimited amount of health records, in a "secure" manner, which grants access to authorized personnel only, Fulton said.

Fulton said the new system has been in the works at Henry Medical Center for the past two years. The project, she said, was "expedited" last year by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, or the federal stimulus program.

Officials would not provide the cost associated with implementing the new computerized system.

The hospital, Fulton continued, plans to begin using it in "no later than 18 months."

The hospital issued a written statement about Fulton's new role Monday, saying that she has a nursing diploma from Georgia Baptist School of Nursing, a bachelor of science degree in health arts from the University of St. Francis, and a master's degree in nursing from the University of Phoenix.