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March 7, 2021
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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
Electronic Health Records
(2007-02-14)
(wgvu) -
In committing to spend $35 million in the coming years to fully
implement electronic medical records, Michigan Medical PC aims to
make patient data readily accessible when needed.

The new system MMPC is buying from Madison, Wisc.-based Epic Systems
Inc. will significantly elevate the medical group's use of electronic
medical records.

It's the kind of major investment that MMPC and other health care
providers, even after years of integrating information technology
into their operations, are increasingly making to improve the
management and flow of patient medical data as well as quality,
safety and operating efficiency.

This system can really change how we practice, MMPC CEO Ted Inman
said.

MMPC, the state's largest physician-owned group medical practice,
with 200 doctors and 90 other practitioners, signed a contract last
week to buy the new system from EPIC Systems.

MMPC now uses a hybrid of systems for various business functions
scheduling, billing and patient referrals and a fair amount of
electronic medical records in varying forms, Inman said.
One MMPC division, an internal-medicine practice, already has gone
completely paperless.

The new system will allow the company to integrate business and
clinical functions and fully implement EMRs at all of its 24 medical
offices across western Michigan.

It will allow practitioners to easily access and update medical
charts electronically, even from off-site via a secure network
connection, as well as share data with other care providers.

The timing is right, MMPC vice president of medical affairs Jack
MacKeigan said of the investment. This will be a huge advantage going
forward.

MMPC recently concluded that the technology behind EMRs has evolved
to the point to make the investment now, Inman said. The company has built
up its I.T. infrastructure for five years and
has studied and prepared for the investment for three years.

The technology has gotten to the point where we feel that it is
feasible, Inman said. We now feel this is doable, both financially
and our physicians are as ready as they're going to be.

MMPC's investment comes as physicians across the United States
increasingly are using I.T. in their clinical practices.

Physicians reporting data for a 2006 study by the Center for Studying
Health System Change, a health care think tank, reported what were
considered significant increases in the use of clinical I.T. in five
key areas between 2000 and 2005.

The exchange of clinical data between physicians, for instance, grew
from 40.6 percent to 50.1 percent, and electronic prescription
writing increased from 11.4 percent to 21.9 percent.

Yet even with the increases, there's still a long way to go in
incorporating I.T. into patient care, said Paul Ginsburg, president
of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Studying Health System Change.

Eighty percent of the reporting physicians still don't use electronic
systems to order prescriptions for patients, he noted.

Small practices in particular lag large medical groups in the use of
I.T., the center reported in November in a follow-up study.

Health care administrators expect an acceleration in the
implementation of EMRs in the years ahead.

In the next three to five years, you're going to see tremendous
progress, Spectrum Health Chief Information Officer Patrick O'Hare
said.

We're going to be presented with further opportunities to strengthen
the use of information technology to further enhance quality and the
patient's safety.

Spectrum in 2007 is focusing on further implementing EMRs at its
health and urgent care centers around the area and in the primary-
care setting.

Metro Health Hospital, also using Epic, recently began working to
incorporate EMRs at its 10 outpatient medical centers by early 2008
and will use them at the new $150 million hospital in Wyoming that
will open this fall, spokeswoman Ellen Bristol said.

Grand Rapids-based Advantage Health, a medical group affiliated with
Saint Mary's Health Care, expects to have its first office fully
implement EMRs within a month, said Greg Forzley, medical director of
informatics.

Saint Mary's and Advantage Health, which has 100 physicians and 14
offices in the Grand Rapids area, implemented EMRs in the hospital in
October 2004 and are now focused on integrating physician offices by
the end of 2008.
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