By JOEY DIEHL
Wellstar Health System recently changed their chart systems to electronic charts for all patients, a change that will benefit doctors, nurses and patients.
Electronic chart systems allow patients to see their information online, schedule appointments and request medication refills, and allow doctors to respond to patient requests in real time.The company went live with the first phase of electronic chart systems in September 2013. The final phase will go live in July of this year.
Christy Ross, an employee for Wellstar at the North Cobb Women’s Health Medical Group at Kennestone Hospital, was one of the first to be trained on this system and has a great deal of experience with it. She was trained last year for the new system and has helped doctors and nurses adapt to the new system.
“It’s pretty black and white,” she said. “It’s just a really efficient way of being able to chart everything you’ve done at the visit. Medication, allergies and history are all put into one kind of profile I guess you could call it for a patient.
“This new system is interconnected between not only my office but any other office in Wellstar, so if a patient were to come see my doctor and if they were to have another appointment later that day with another doctor within Wellstar, everything that we did they’ll be able to see so that you don’t have to repeat it and that will make for a much more efficient interface with patients seeing multiple doctors.”
The electronic chart system works by having the patient create an online account on the website MyChart. The website allows patients to make appointments, check lab results, and review or change medical statuses on their profile.
Susie Kirk, another nurse for the Wellstar North Cobb Women’s Health Medical Group, was also one of the first nurses trained on this new system. She helps train doctors who are still getting accustomed to the new system.
“I think one of the coolest things about the new electronic chart systems is the ability to check up on your chart on your phone wherever you go,” Kirk said. “It’s just really convenient to be able to see that your medication refill was sent successfully to your pharmacy without calling and dealing with the hassle of a doctor’s office.”
Wellstar began preliminary work on changing over to electronic chart systems in 2011 and is currently in the final stages of implementation. Electronic chart systems are virtual patient charts that are available to patients, doctors and nurses and allow for efficient interfacing between medical practitioners and patients.
Charts are available on Wellstar’s website and easy for a patient to view. Once a patient logs in, they can see their full chart and have options to do many things that were once only possible through an in-person doctor’s visit.
A major advantage of electronic chart systems from a patient’s perspective is the ease of access the patient has to her own medical information.
If a patient goes in for a routine appointment, she can see her information and appointment results. She can also update her own information, changing such informational elements as height, weight, marital status, and allergies. In the past, the only way to accomplish these things was to travel in person to a doctor’s office. Electronic chart systems provide patients with more up-to-date and accurate information, and allow doctors to see the most recent information available for their patients.
Wellstar is currently in the final stages of implementing the electronic chart system, which goes live in July. All patients are currently in the new system and, according to Ross, the general consensus with patients has been very good.
Electronic chart systems are paving the way for the future of medicine, driving more efficient health care delivery for all constituencies within the health care community.