The PERKS Of Going Digital At Atlantic General - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

The PERKS Of Going Digital At Atlantic General

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WORCESTER CO., Md. - Atlantic General is rolling out a new record keeping system called PERKS (Patient Electronic Record-Keeping Service) to help make your trip to the hospital a little less painful.  The system, which launched on January 28th, allows the hospital and its medical staff to electrically document patient history, order medication, and share information in real time among departments.

"Now, if you call me for pain medication, I can enter it into the computer, the pharmacist sees it immediately pop up, makes sure you don't have any allergies or any contraindications to it, and the nurse can immediately administer that medication," says Frank Grosso, a nurse practitioner at Atlantic General.

This isn't the first time Atlantic General has used electronic record keeping; the hospital started using electronic records in its emergency department in 2011.  There, officials say the system has helped keep track of the medical history of the many people that come in and out of the emergency room, even if they don't live in the state.

"We can reach out to Delaware and say 'hey I suddenly have a patient that's turned up in my ED, have they sought medication anywhere else?' And we're able to report back similarly 'hey, here's a medication we pit then on'," says  Barbara Ridell, Vice President of Information Systems.
Hospital officials admit, using an electronic recording system take a little more work in the beginning, but they say the outcome is definitely worth it.  Glen Fields, PERKS Project Manager at Atlantic General says "frankly, it's difficult initially to put data into these systems but after you build up data over a period of time, you can really improve quality of care."   

One of the perks of PERKS is a bedside multimedia console that lets patients do everything from watch television, surf the Internet, and even Skype, but most importantly, they will soon be able to access some of their medical information, including medications.

In November of 2012, Atlantic General Hospital received $1.8 million from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) for achieving Stage 1 Meaningful Use.  The hospital achieved this through the electronic medical record in the emergency department.  This money comes because eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals can qualify for incentive payment under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program if they successfully demonstrate meaningful use or certified EHR technology.  

Over the next seven years, Atlantic General plans to invest $10 million dollars in PERKS as the hospital expands the system, and adds the patient portal component.  


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