Beginning July 1, Conway Medical Center will implement its new Cerner Millennium software system that will mean great changes for patient care, patient safety and continuity of care, among other benefits.
"It's the biggest IT (information technology) change that we have ever made," said CMC Vice President of Medical Affairs Dr. Paul Richardson. "Our vision statement says 'seamless continuum of care' and we're taking a huge step to fulfill our mission and vision."
The software is a single, integrated database, which will mean all patients within the Conway Medical Center system will have one medical record that will be accessible across all practices in the system for a seamless transfer of documentation. It will replace the current system that they have had in place since 1998.
"One of the biggest challenges in healthcare is interoperability," said David Crutchfield, vice president and chief information officer at CMC.
Although the cost of such a system is great, with the average of hospitals of similar sizes paying almost $150,000 per patient room, they say the system is an absolute investment.
"It's the right thing to do for the patient," Richardson said.
When it's all said and done, CMC will be one of the leaders in the area in terms of interoperability.
"It's [Cerner] one of the best...state-of-the-art, superior clinical care," Crutchfield said.
Patient safety is a major benefit of this software, and Crutchfield said it will be nearly impossible to make a prescription mistake due to the closed loop medication administration portion of the program. It will take those entering the medications through a five-right security pathway, double-checking the patient's identity, condition, medical history and other identifying factors before allowing a prescription to be sent through for filling.
Patients aren't the only ones who will see a benefit from this new software.
The system looks at best industry practices and helps doctors and nurses deliver the best care for each patient's needs. Crutchfield said it is an intelligent platform to help the provider make good decisions regarding care.
"Of course, we [doctors and nurses] do our due diligence clinically and professionally, but this gives us an extra eye," Richardson said. "It will help us drive care of the patient down the best possible path."
One of those extra eyes is an app within the system called Sepsis Advisor, which will run in the background of Millennium. It is an algorithm that will look at protocol and take into consideration the health statistics, lab results and levels, etc, of the patient, to aid in predicting whether a patient might be at risk for developing sepsis.
"It will be enormously helpful," Crutchfield said.
Patients who love the ease of accessing their patient portal for their medical information will have even easier access, as Millennium will combine all their patient portal information into one.
"Patient engagement is key," Richardson said. "We want to engage patients and families?in a friendly, easy way, with easy access to information and lab results in a one-stop shop."
Getting numerous bills for one emergency room or doctor visit will hopefully be a thing of the past once Millennium implementation takes place. Crutchfield and Richardson say it won't be an immediate change, but within a few years, they hope to have the ability to reduce the number of hospital bills a patient receives and blend it into one consolidated payment within the CMC system.
Change is never an easy thing, though, as all employees are working hard to help transition to the new system and be ready to go online July 1.
"It'll be a little bit of pain," Richardson said. "Change is hard."
Employees have already gone above and beyond to learn the ins and outs of the new system coming their way.
"We have great employees working really hard, on top of the work they already have to do," Crutchfield said. "They are smart and competent, and this is going to have a great outcome."