Electronic Health Record Project Underway at Penn Highlands Clearfield

August 22, 2016

In an effort to improve patient care and communication with its sister hospitals, Penn Highlands Clearfield is upgrading its current electronic health record and financial systems.

The conversion to the Cerner Electronic Health Record, which will enable Clearfield to interact seamlessly with other Penn Highlands’ hospitals, is underway and expected to be completed by March 2017.

Penn Highlands Healthcare is making an investment of $6 million for the purchase and installation of hardware and software as well as infrastructure improvements to refresh the network, computing and telecommunications systems throughout Penn Highlands Clearfield.

“This is a major project, not only in terms of investment, but in terms of how it elevates the quality of care we provide. Having this technology is essential in today’s healthcare field. We fully believe the investment is well worth the benefits the new system provides to improve patient safety and outcomes,” noted Steven M. Fontaine, chief executive officer of Penn Highlands Healthcare.

An electronic health record is a computer file of medical patient history, medical transcription notes and other information needed for a complete electronic patient profile.

The most important benefit of this technology is that it provides doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers with accurate, up-to-date and complete information about patients so they can make an accurate diagnosis quickly. Other benefits are medical error prevention, improved care coordination, more reliable prescribing, improved productivity and legible, complete documentation.

The new system also has a patient portal, which is a secure online service that gives patients access to their personal health information from anywhere with an Internet connection. Using a secure username and password, patients can view health information such as recent doctor visits, medical history, medications, lab results, discharge summaries, among other reports.

“This is very exciting for our patients because it will enhance knowledge about their medical conditions and improve outcomes by giving them 24-hour access to their health records. This kind of technology is a must in today’s digital world,” stated Kathy Bedger, chief nursing officer for Penn Highlands Clearfield and a project sponsor.

Also at the helm of the project are Tom Johnson, Penn Highlands Healthcare chief information officer, and Russell Cameron, M.D., F.A.C.E.P., chief medical information officer; they are working with the Penn Highlands Clearfield information technology and leadership teams.

All departments will be involved in the transition, Bedger said. At the main building of Penn Highlands Clearfield, both inpatient and outpatient areas will be directly impacted, as well as fiscal services and business offices. All departments will experience changes in the way information is gathered and accessed.

Like the previous electronic health record system at Clearfield, the new platform has numerous safeguards that comply with federal guidelines for security and confidentiality.

“The Cerner Electronic Health Record format will allow for accurate documentation of patient care and activities, and also enable physicians to more easily access that documentation from an office setting,” Bedger said. “We believe this transition into a patient-centric documentation system, rather than a task-centered system, will allow for more meaningful data to be available to our physicians and staff as they care for our community across the health continuum.”

Gary Macioce, president of Penn Highlands Clearfield, agreed with Bedger and added, “This project is a significant undertaking, and we are confident that our implementation team will ensure a smooth transition. We are excited about the future possibilities of this technology and how it will give our doctors, nurses and caregivers the tools they need to provide the safest, most efficient care.”