Central Peninsula Hospital has received the green light from the assembly to purchase a $6.34 million electronic records system.
The system, called Epic, is the same electronic health records program that Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage uses. Updating the system will enable the hospital to meet the national requirements for electronic recordkeeping, called Meaningful Use.
The hospital began the search for a new system last November and received proposals from three vendors — Epic Systems, Cerner Corporation and MEDITECH, which supplies the hospital’s current record system.
After weighing the costs versus the benefits, the hospital administration determined that Epic would deliver the best value for the cost, said Bruce Richards, external affairs manager for the hospital.
Richards said the various systems from the departments of the hospitals and the clinics will be merged in time for the scheduled Sept. 10, 2016 go-live date.
“That’s the beauty of it,” Richards said. “We don’t have to be on all these different systems.”
The assembly approved the $6.34 million purchase out of the hospital’s Plant Replacement and Expansion Fund, which currently has an approximately $11 million unobligated balance after subtracting the approximately $3 million in bond obligations.
The amount includes $864,430 for hardware purchases, $817,500 for data transfer and conversion, $280,000 for archiving the current system and $48,000 for training.
Some of the training will be done here, but some will also be done in Anchorage and some at the Epic Systems facilities in Verona, Wisconsin, said Rick Davis, CEO of Central Peninsula Hospital.
The fact that Providence uses the same system factored into the decision, Davis said.
“That definitely played into it,” Davis said. “We were able to ask for their advice, as they’ve been through this before.”
Epic does not usually deal with hospitals as small as Central Peninsula, Richards said. However, the company has an option called Community Connect that works like a wheel-and-spoke, he explained: the servers themselves will be stored offsite, some at Providence and some in Washington state. Some of the data will be housed at Central Peninsula Hospital, but it was significantly more expensive to set up a data center, Richards said.
Even though the records are stored elsewhere, they will still be encrypted, Richards said.
“They’ll be stored there, but our records will be our records,” Richards said. “These record systems, although it’s a community connect record system, this whole system is CPH. Nobody can get into it unless there’s a patient-provider relationship established.”
One of the key benefits of using the same system as Providence will be the ability to share records electronically, an upcoming federal requirement, Richards said. Many doctors still send and receive records on paper, by mail or by fax. On the new system, Central Peninsula Hospital will be able to send a patient’s record to Anchorage or Seward, where Providence operates the hospital, if a Central Peninsula Hospital patient goes there for another procedure, Richards said.
Part of the reason for storing the data elsewhere is for redundancy. While having all the records available electronically is a federal requirement and saves paper, if the power goes out or there is a server error and there is no backup, doctors will not have access to a patient’s medical record.
Richards said having additional storage locations in Anchorage and in Washington will provide extra backups.
“If one pipeline goes down we have another way to get to (the records),” Richards said. “It’s all about redundancy. That’s the point of having these electronic records, so we don’t have to have things on paper, but we need to make sure we can get to it.”
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