Recently, Sentara RMH Medical Center and Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital transitioned their respective information technology systems to Sentara eCare®, an information technology network that captures all data for an individual patient and compiles it into a single, secure electronic medical record that is easily accessible to caregivers. Implementation of the system, which took place this year, is part of Sentara Healthcare’s efforts to invest in the future by rolling out a consistent electronic medical record technology across its system.
Transition to Sentara eCare allows for the secure sharing of patient information among all Sentara hospitals, medical clinics and other sites through Epic, the network’s primary electronic medical record module. Sentara eCare also interfaces with systems for patient registration, scheduling and billing.
The Sentara eCare system went live at Sentara RMH in April 2016, and at Sentara Martha Jefferson in October. All doctors, nurses and other care providers underwent significant training to get ready for the system’s implementation, and staffing at each hospital was increased temporarily to compensate for the learning curve.
“We are pleased that the facilities in Sentara’s Blue Ridge Region have now implemented this fully integrated system, enabling providers to see the entire continuum of care provided to patients within Sentara,” says Rick Haushalter, senior vice president of operations and chief operating officer for Sentara RMH. “This seamless system will result in greater efficiencies and safety checks to allow our clinicians to provide the best care possible.”
Integrated System Brings Many Benefits
A broad information technology network, Sentara eCare includes Epic and numerous other modules, such as Stork, the labor and delivery module that tracks a mother’s care from the time pregnancy is confirmed in the clinic to her baby’s birth in the hospital. For the Emergency Department, a system module called ASAP helps streamline workflow, from registration to physical exam and discharge, while maintaining efficiency and high standards of care. Sentara eCare also includes MyChart (see sidebar), an online portal that enables patients to have a greater role in their own health care.
“Each of the Sentara eCare modules works together as part of the bigger network, so they really enhance documentation, workflow and efficiency across the various departments within the Sentara system,” says Ann Yonce, MSN, RN-BC, the Sentara eCare site coordinator at Sentara Martha Jefferson. “All patient data is available within one system. So, for example, if you had a patient who came in through the Emergency Department and then needed to be admitted as an inpatient, the patient’s information from his or her time in the Emergency Department would be visible to the hospital doctors and nurses who provide subsequent care.”
The Epic module allows caregivers to see the entire scope of care a patient has received—all in one place, without having to switch back and forth between different systems. This kind of centralization will improve and expedite the flow of information and enhance the transition of care among all Sentara facilities, as well as with other hospitals that use Epic.
For patients, this sharing of information will help eliminate the frustration that comes with having to repeat certain medical history information, such as medications, to multiple caregivers.
“The biggest advantage of Sentara eCare is probably the continuity of care it provides across the Sentara system,” says Yonce. “Previously, we had one electronic medical record for our hospital, another for our medical practices and so on. Going forward, this system will be used for all areas of healthcare services provided at Sentara facilities.”
Sentara RMH hospitalist Rupen Amin, MD, says having the ability to see a full patient record also enhances communication among providers, who can send messages relevant to patient care to each other through the system. This increased connectivity means better care for patients.
“All Sentara providers are on the same system now, so we can access complete patient records,” explains Dr. Amin. “We’re able to see what treatments patients have had and what medications they’re taking. We’re all getting the same information, so there’s nothing lost in translation.”
Providing Safe, High-Quality Care
Another of Epic’s major benefits involves its safety features, which can help catch potential medical errors before they occur. Best practice alerts, an important feature of the module, notify clinicians when they need to perform certain tasks, such as checking a patient’s allergy information or reminding a patient to get a needed vaccine. The system also can prompt physicians to screen for certain medical conditions, based on data in a patient’s electronic medical record.
On a larger scale, Epic also provides a robust means of collecting data, such as readmission and mortality rates, and reporting that data from facilities across the Sentara system. This capability will allow Sentara RMH and Sentara Martha Jefferson to evaluate procedures and protocols, and to make improvements when necessary.
One thing that won’t change with the implementation of Sentara eCare is the compassionate, personalized care patients have come to expect at both Sentara RMH and Sentara Martha Jefferson.
“Our providers are still extremely passionate about patient care, and Sentara eCare will allow them to offer greater efficiencies while focusing on the outcomes, safety and the patient experience,” Yonce says. “While it has been a challenge to develop and implement this new system, Sentara eCare has been tailored to Sentara RMH and Sentara Martha Jefferson’s unique needs, enabling us to deliver better, safer care for our patients.”