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Electronic Health Records Milestone Achieved

November 4, 2011
Somerset Medical Center, a national leader in health information technology, became one of the first hospitals in New Jersey and the country to achieve the federal government’s standards for “meaningful use” of certified electronic health records. The medical center earned this recognition through its participation in the Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Records Incentive Program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“Our investment in health information technology demonstrates our continued commitment to enhancing efficiency, reducing costs and advancing patient care,” said Ken Bateman, president and chief executive officer of Somerset Medical Center. “In January, we pledged to achieve ‘meaningful use’ of certified electronic health records by December 2011. Our staff has done an exceptional job in achieving this goal that will benefit Somerset Medical Center and our patients in many ways.”

In 2001, Somerset Medical Center began Stage I of the process of implementing electronic health records. Electronic health records give doctors and caregivers instant access to important information about a patient’s health, including X-rays, MRIs, EKGs, medications and previous medical history, helping them make timely diagnoses and begin prompt treatment. The system provides doctors and caregivers the opportunity for a safe, easy and quick way of storing and accessing patient information, especially in an emergency. In addition to creating new efficiencies, the use of electronic health records also enhances patient safety by reducing medication duplication and alerting health care professionals to potentially dangerous drug interactions and allergies.

In achieving this recognition, Somerset Medical Center takes its place among a small and advanced group of hospitals throughout the country. Only three percent of community hospitals in the nation currently utilize an electronic health records system and only 12 percent of hospitals nationwide employ a computerized physician order entry system. Somerset Medical Center is included in both of those categories. In addition to this achievement, Somerset Medical Center earned the highest satisfaction rating of all participants for its execution of electronic health records implemented by physicians in Cerner Client Care Council’s 2011 Physician Survey. 

“Our accomplishments in health information technology have indeed put Somerset Medical Center on the map, prompting visits from hospital representatives around the world over the past several years to learn about our computer system and model their systems around ours,” said Dave Dyer, vice president of information technology services and planning and chief information officer at Somerset Medical Center. “By achieving ‘meaningful use’ of electronic health records, we remain on the forefront.”

Somerset Medical Center is set to embark on the next phase of the proposed meaningful use requirements in the Spring of 2012. As part of Stage II, the medical center will enhance emergency department (ED) documentation and charging along with triage and ED patient tracking. Next steps also include bedside bar coded medication administration, which increases patient safety by verifying that the right medication is administered to the right patient in all cases. In addition, medication reconciliation at admission and discharge will ensure that the patient has a smooth medical transition from hospital to home and understands what changes were made in a prescription. 

Stage II also includes standardization and automation of processes including discharge, physician progress note documentation, order entry and quality measure compliance. All of these advances are designed to add new efficiencies while improving patient care across the continuum of care.