As Luck (and Timely EMR Planning) Would Have It

Posted on June 16, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

Editor’s Note: The following article is written by a new blogger in the EMR and EHR family: Jennifer Dennard. A big welcome to Jennifer and we’ll have to have her do an intro post in the future so everyone can learn about the great work Jennifer is doing in the healthcare IT world.

The day the tornado struck in Joplin, Missouri, “luck” wasn’t a word that made it to very many people’s lips. Nearly a month has passed, however, giving the town time to reflect on just how “lucky” its citizens have been, particularly with regard to the quick thinking and incredible dedication of the staff at its area hospital, St. John’s Regional Medical Center, part of the Sisters of Mercy Health System.

Numerous reports have detailed the efforts of the hospital’s medical teams to move patients and staff to safety during and after the storm, as well as to establish the mobile version of the hospital after the original structure was hit. Stories are now coming to light of the well-timed – some would even say “lucky” – opening of a brand-new data center some 250 miles from Joplin and the corresponding implementation of an EPIC electronic medical records (EMR) system at the hospital close to a month before the storm hit. The Joplin facility was the last of the 28 acute-care hospitals in the Mercy system to go live on an EMR.

Tales have been told of X-ray images being found as far as 70 miles away from the hospital, but the EMR and off-site data center made flying files a moot point, as HealthDataManagement.com recounted in a recent article:

“”We’ve got the connectivity, so for us it doesn’t really matter where it’s at physically,” says Mike McCreary, chief of services for Mercy Technology Services, a unit of the health system.

“Joplin resident Paul Johnson, 78, was hospitalized with pneumonia at St. John’s when the tornado struck. Guided safely by his family from the facility to a triage center, Johnson was then taken to another Mercy hospital in Springfield, Mo., where all of his electronic records were available.

“”I knew that they would want to know my medications, dosages and what tests had been done, and I knew that I couldn’t remember all of it,” Johnson said, according to a press release from Mercy. “The doctors in Springfield were able to pull up my records and ask me questions. It worked out beautifully.”

Some would even say he was lucky.