Electronic Health RecordApril 11, 2012 9:47 AM
BAMSI’s latest advance in technology is underway: we are currently in the process of selecting and implementing an electronic health record (EHR) business solution. There are varying meanings of an electronic health record, especially as the medical community is exploring technology and coming to understand what methods are best. A very basic definition of an EHR is an electronic warehouse of an individual’s medical history. In the same way that most doctors bring a laptop into appointments to record their meetings with patients, the goal is for BAMSI staff to begin tracking their work electronically. An EHR can also be used as a database of demographic information of BAMSI persons served.
BAMSI has decided to move forward with an EHR for several reasons. It is our belief that storing medical information, including clinical notes, will allow for a deeper understanding of each person served and give staff a greater opportunity to see the “big picture.” We are also mandated to have an electronic record for select programs, including Early Child Intervention and our Counseling programs, by the State of Massachusetts. This requirement must be fulfilled by 2015. Another benefit is to have immediate access to critical information regarding individuals in the event of an emergency.
Chief Operations Officer Vanessa Tierney says of the project: “The strength of our organization, and what makes us a leader in our industry, is the diversity of our programs, skills, and persons served. A better understanding of who and what we are, the ability to share and use information to fill service gaps, and the capacity to respond to individual needs in real time, will not only keep us in the forefront as a provider, but also strengthen our entire service delivery system. To realize these gains we must move forward and implement an electronic record; it’s essential to future success.”
Thus far, the BAMSI EHR Project Team, which includes representatives from its diverse programs, has written a request for information and selected vendors to demo their products to us, based on the responses received. In the coming weeks and months, we will select a vendor and determine the most prudent and effective method for implementing the new product. For BAMSI employees, this process may mean a fairly significant change in the way that they do business. You will accomplish the same goals, but the steps taken to reach those goals may be changing. For example, completing an assessment within an EHR solution may follow different steps than a current paper assessment, but you will gather the same information and have better access to that information after it is collected. We hope to make the transition process as smooth as possible, and will be seeking input from various staff to help test the product we select. We will keep agency employees informed along the way as the project team reaches important milestones. It is important that employees feel comfortable that we are being diligent in our approach to selecting a solution.
As an agency, we strive to be a leader, following industry best practices in all areas, including the services we provide and the methods we use to provide them. Electronic records are where the industry is headed, and we hope to achieve this in the most responsible and practical way possible. Choosing and implementing an electronic record system is a critical juncture for BAMSI, and we look forward to the advancements that it can provide us.