Electronic medical records, an innovation President Bush endorsed in his State of the Union address last week, are coming to Yale-New Haven Hospital.
The hospital plans to implement LYNX Medical Systems software for both emergency room documentation and revenue management at the main campus before April, and at YNHH Shoreline Medical Center in Guilford, Conn. by the end of February. The technology will replace a paper system of patient records and help organize billing and management information.
The new software could expedite the treatment process, YNNH Chief Information Officer Mark Anderson said
“Paper records make it difficult to be sure that a patient’s information will be quickly available to all the right caregivers,” Anderson said. “An electronic system makes this less of a problem and provides easier access during any follow-up treatment.”
Private patient information will be stored on the hospital’s central server, which is secured by a firewall, Anderson said.
LYNX Director of Marketing Cherie Blehm said the patient tracking software creates a template with a set of questions tailored to a patient’s health problem, age and sex. The technology is also useful for keeping x-rays or information about previous problems close at hand, she said.
“It’s like getting an immediate and tailored checklist,” Blehm said. “The system saves a lot of time, reduces the cost of documentation and provides real-time information about patients.”
Blehm said the LYNX database will be secure, with user identification codes and passwords required to view private records. Though most information will remain within the hospital’s internal network, she said the software includes an option for secure Internet access to electronic patient records via a remote Web-based viewing tool. Blehm said LYNX complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act to ensure private information is kept secure.
Dr. Heidi Frankel, a surgeon at YNHH, said digital medical records are useful for storing information needed periodically over the years — a necessity common among patients with long-term illnesses — and are more legible.
“It’s a wonderful idea to use electronic information,” she said. “It’s often hard to read the handwriting on paper records.”
While paper records are more unwieldy, they can be less vulnerable to mass alteration and theft. Recent incidents at Harvard and the University of California, Los Angeles raise concerns about the security of computerized health records.
The theft of two laptops over the last two years from UCLA’s health care division and Blood & Platelet Center has compromised the personal information of more than 200,000 people. For the last few months, a glitch in a Harvard Web site allowed anyone with internet access to view confidential drug purchase histories of students and employees, according to the Harvard Crimson.
Anderson declined to comment on how much installation of the LYNX software would cost YNHH. The hospital signed a contract with the software company at the end of last year.