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Physicians Embracing Electronic Health Records

Greater Patient Safety and Satisfaction Through Information Technology Initiatives

PITTSBURGH, February 28, 2005 — “Despite multiple challenges, health care professionals are embracing information technology and are enabled to do their jobs more efficiently with the use of electronic health records,” stated G. Daniel Martich, M.D., vice president of eRecord at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) at a March 4 presentation before the American Medical Association's Physician Consortium for Performance Improvement in Chicago.

The Consortium includes representatives from more than 60 national medical specialty and state medical societies, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and works to develop evidence-based clinical performance measures and clinical outcomes reporting tools to support physicians in quality improvement efforts.

During the meeting physicians discussed their organization's initiatives in clinical quality improvement and described electronic technologies that they are employing for performance measurement and patient safety.

At UPMC, the electronic health record, called eRecord, has been implemented in various phases throughout the 19 hospitals of the system and has thus far created almost 1.3 million unique patient records. Among the eRecord applications are: computerized physician order entry, a patient portal, emergency room automation, paperless reporting and structured clinical documentation.

“We have had widespread medical staff acceptance of our electronic health record initiative throughout the health system,” Dr. Martich said. “Positive results have included a reduction in medical errors that cause harm, improved patient and physician satisfaction, improved regulatory compliance, reduced pharmacy costs, less dropped hand-offs of patients from clinician to clinician and time savings for physicians and patients.”

Some specific outcomes presented by Dr. Martich include the following:

  • At a pediatric hospital medication errors that cause harm declined to .01/1,000 doses dispensed from .04/1,000 doses dispensed
  • 76 percent of surveyed patients were satisfied or very satisfied with the UPMC HealthTrak patient portal
  • Verbal orders cosigned within 24 hours rose to 97 percent from 79 percent
  • Medication administration time decreased by 50 percent
  • Approximately 80 percent of physicians in a community hospital used CPOE one week after introduction
  • More than 20,000 various clinical documents are shared via the UPMC physician portal monthly
  • Time needed for emergency physicians to complete the discharge process was reduced by 7.20 minutes per patient, which equals 560 minutes, or more than 9 hours per day (based on 80 discharges per day at site where evaluation was performed)
  • UPMC decreased pharmacy costs at its largest hospital by $1.5 million last year in the face of a 12 percent increase in pharmaceutical pricing and an increased number of patients admitted to the facility
  • Billing charges are posted 8 percent faster and payments are received 16.53 days sooner
  • Discontinuation of lab results printing has led to a $7,500 per month printing cost savings

In his remarks Dr. Martich, who also is co-director of the cardiothoracic intensive care unit at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital and associate professor of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, also stated that the eRecord has more than 5,000 active users.

“Approximately 86 percent of physician users are in academic facilities and physician practices, while 25 percent of all users are within our community hospitals,” Dr. Martich said.

About UPMC eRecord

UPMC has committed approximately $500 million to develop and deploy information technology initiatives. The UPMC eRecord encompasses a broad range of electronic clinical applications that give doctors, nurses and other caregivers the ability to instantly access important patient information. The goal of the initiative is to improve the quality of patient care, reduce medical errors and duplication of services and provide more cost-effective care.

About the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is the largest integrated health care delivery system in Pennsylvania and one of the leading nonprofit medical centers in the country. With more than 39,000 employees, it is the largest employer in western Pennsylvania. More than 4,000 physicians have privileges at UPMC hospitals including about 1,950 employed physicians. UPMC spans the full spectrum of health care delivery with its network of 19 tertiary, specialty and community hospitals and 400 outpatient sites and doctors’ offices.

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