Kona Community Hospital will start testing its electronic medical records system next week, with a month-long test run.
Hawaii Health Systems Corp. spokesman Miles Takaaze said the full cost for the entire health system to upgrade to electronic medical records is about $75 million over the next five years. But, because the move is federally mandated, the system’s acute care centers will reap about $10 million back in Medicare incentives for making the switch, he said. Hospitals that do not switch to electronic medical records by 2015 will be penalized via reduced Medicare reimbursement rates, he added.
“It improves patient quality and patent safety, going from paper to electronic record keeping,” Takaaze said.
Patients won’t notice the test, which begins Monday and runs through the end of September, because the first phase will take place entirely in the administrative offices, Takaaze said. This first round of testing will check the procedures for patient check-in, discharge and billing, with a second round of testing in October looking at more “day in the life” scenarios, he said.
About 100 extra people, from HHSC and from medical equipment vendor Siemens Healthcare, will participate in the records testing.
Kona Community Hospital’s electronic records system is expected to “go live” in February, Takaaze said. HHSC’s last location to switch to the system, an Oahu site, is scheduled to do so in August 2013.
Hospital staff are already being trained to use the new system, Takaaze said.
Hospital CEO Jay Kreuzer was off island Tuesday and unavailable for comment. Other administrators were also unavailable, Kona hospital spokeswoman Judy Donovan said.
“The objective is to implement long-term, integrated solutions that will provide health care professionals access to patient information where it’s needed, when it’s needed, across HHSC’s varied care settings, which will ultimately improve the overall quality of care and patient safety,” officials said in a written statement.
HHSC selected Kona Community Hospital as the launch site for the statewide system because of how the hospital was already closely integrated with Kohala Hospital. The two together provided the system the opportunity to test the electronic medical records in long-term care, acute care and critical care settings, Takaaze said.
Hilo Medical Center already switched to electronic medical records. Officials there opted not to wait for HHSC to select a system and purchased their own.