Visitors to hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities around the United States will no doubt have noticed a transformation over the past decade in how their information is captured by health professionals. Nearly gone are the flip charts and folders that once typified medical records and adorned the halls of a physician’s office. Gradually, these paper records are being replaced with electronic health record (EHR) systems promising great benefits to patients.
According to a 2014 announcement from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, about six in 10 (or 59 percent) of hospitals had adopted an electronic health records (EHR) system – quadruple the percentage from 2010.
One healthcare provider and NetApp customer, Mercy Health, stands apart as a leader in not only adopting EHRs, but in implementing them successfully. Read on to learn more about how they’ve implemented this system – and how it was put to an extreme test during a natural disaster.
The Mercy Health Solution
Mercy Technology Services (MTS) is responsible for managing the rollout of Mercy’s EHR solution with the goal to provide centralized IT operations for Mercy’s 32 hospitals, located across several U.S. states.
Beginning in 2004, Mercy made a $60 million investment in a new datacenter, which included moving all of its clinical operations to a single, patient-centric EHR by Epic Systems and virtualizing its storage leveraging NetApp.
With over 1,100 applications in active use, Mercy made the controversial decision to rely on virtualization technology and deployed FlexPod solutions offered by NetApp, Cisco and VMware to establish the server infrastructure it wanted. This enabled MTS to consolidate its IT into an existing datacenter as well as ease the transition to its new datacenter.
The transition of the EHR system to the new datacenter was accomplished in less than an hour, and over the following months hundreds of other systems were moved to the new datacenter. Since the move, Mercy has reached its goal of 99.9 percent availability for its EHR application and infrastructure.
In May 2011, the entire system was put to the test when a tornado destroyed the Mercy hospital in Joplin, Missouri. Other Mercy hospitals were able to access patient records from the destroyed hospital immediately. Staff was able to communicate via an emergency conference bridge to non-Mercy hospitals in the area with records being printed at Mercy hospitals and delivered to those non-Mercy hospitals in the Joplin area. The 183 patients who were affected in Joplin had been moved to other area hospitals and were never without their medical records as a result.
A fully utilized EHR system has the potential to improve the quality and effectiveness of patient care. When correctly configured and implemented, EHRs offer an always-available pathway to data that can improve patient diagnoses, reduce overall costs and ultimately eliminate downtime, even in the case of a natural disaster.
Going to be at HIMSS 2015 McCormick Place, Chicago, IL.? Visit NetApp Booth #3612. Mercy Health representatives will be at the booth discussing how they leverage NetApp technology on Monday, April 13, 3:00pm and 4:00pm & Tuesday, April 14, 2:00pm and 3:00pm.