Patients benefit from single, shared and secure electronic health record

May 30, 2012

NHRMC Connect Live June 2
On June 2, 2012, New Hanover Regional Medical Center provided area residents with one of the biggest advancements in medical care in the region’s history. New Hanover Regional Medical Center transitioned its electronic medical record to a new, Epic-based electronic health record system called NHRMC Connect.

The new system is an important step that continues to advance patient safety and quality of care by providing a single, shared and secure electronic health record. Through it, authorized physicians and healthcare providers can more quickly access critical patient information, including medical history, test results and prescriptions. With real-time access to the shared information, members of the healthcare team at various locations can more efficiently collaborate on the best course of treatment, improve continuity of care and improve patient education.

NHRMC Connect offers many benefits for patients, families and clinicians including:

  • Enhancing patient safety, quality and continuity of care
  • Sharing and storing secure, real-time patient information
  • Coordinating care between providers
  • Enhancing provider knowledge
  • Improving patient education
  • “This is a sophisticated system that will allow all of our providers to care for patients in a more advanced way,” says Tad Dunn, M.D., Chief Medical Information Officer at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. “Features like clinical physician support remind caregivers of patient allergies and other medical conditions, adding another level of safety and ensuring that our patients get the best possible care.”

    NHRMC Connect went live in all areas of New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Cape Fear Hospital, NHRMC Health & Diagnostic sites, NHRMC’s Coastal Family Medicine and the NHRMC Outpatient Clinics on June 2. New Hanover Medical Group, an NHRMC Physician Group practice, began using NHRMC Connect in November. Another NHRMC Physician Group practice, Cape Fear Heart Associates, began using NHRMC Connect in their offices June 4.

    Physician practices and healthcare providers in the region will be able to access their patients’ NHRMC Connect health records through various integration options that will allow them to share information more seamlessly. New Hanover Regional Medical Center is the second hospital in North Carolina to install Epic electronic medical records systems. Several other organizations will be installing Epic over the next few years. Epic serves more than 42% of the U.S. population and approximately 2% of the world’s population—more than 130 million patients worldwide.

    “Increasing integration across the region and the state will benefit patients who don’t receive all of their care in one location,” says Heather Thornton, NHRMC Connect Program Director. “This can be particularly helpful if they travel to another area and need to go to another hospital. If that hospital is on the Epic system physicians will be able to more quickly access the patient’s medical record and view the information they need to diagnose and treat the patient.”

    All health records and information related to the care and treatment of any patient are protected under the regulations established by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Security in NHRMC Connect is achieved through multiple layers of controls. Only authorized providers involved in treatment have access to patient records and only to the level of access they need.

    “NHRMC Connect is divided into modules,” explains NHRMC’s Chief Technology Officer Joe Norris. “For example, if a patient is coming in for an outpatient surgery, only the physicians and staff who care for our surgical patients will have access to that information. In terms of security and efficiency, NHRMC Connect deploys the very latest technology.”

    Investment in Advancing Care
    “This is an exciting time for our organization and we are proud to offer this gift to our community, our patients and our clinicians,” says Jack Barto, President and Chief Executive Officer at New Hanover Regional Medical Center. “Our Board of Trustees supports the investment in this advanced technology because they, too, are focused on keeping quality patient care our number one priority. We appreciate the involvement the physicians in this community have had in shaping this process and helping ensure the continued advancement of care we provide our neighbors.”

    In October 2010, NHRMC’s Board of Trustees approved the $56 million project, which includes the software, hardware and system implementation.

    The government is requiring more hospitals to invest in electronic health record systems because of their success in both improving care and controlling costs. Hospitals that show they have achieved “meaningful use” of electronic health record systems by 2014 will receive some incentives to offset the cost. New Hanover Regional Medical Center may recoup up to 25% of the cost of the project through defrayed expenses. Penalties for not achieving meaningful use are scheduled to come in 2015.

    About Epic
    Epic is an industry leader in electronic health records. Epic’s client base includes multi-hospital organizations, academic facilities, community hospitals, group practices and safety-net organizations. Epic applications lead the healthcare industry’s consumer and expert rankings.

    About NHRMC
    New Hanover Regional Medical Center is a public, not-for-profit health care system serving southeastern North Carolina and northeastern South Carolina. A teaching hospital, regional referral center, and Level 2 Trauma Center, NHRMC is dedicated to providing a wide range of healthcare services, offering quality care close to home for generations of families through all stages of life. New Hanover Regional Medical Center offers care to everyone who needs it, regardless of his or her ability to pay. New Hanover Regional Medical Center provides more than $120 million a year in uncompensated care, often to those who would not otherwise have access to health care.