We see technological advances in health care every day, both in clinical settings as well as in the systems we use to coordinate and deliver care. While some tools and technologies are timeless, others, like the medical record, are constantly transforming.

SolutionHealth is committed to providing high quality clinical care to the communities served by Elliot Health System (EHS) and Southern New Hampshire Health System (SNHHS). EHS and SNHHS are working toward sharing a single electronic medical record (EMR) system, known as Epic, across the entire SolutionHealth organization. The implementation of Epic, which is widely considered the gold standard EMR system, will enable our providers to provide patients with the most accurate and up to date information.

Medical records are not new to health care. For centuries health care providers have utilized a traditional paper-based record system to document their patients’ medical histories and treatment plans. While documentation is vital to health care, paper records are limiting. Paper records must be copied and transferred securely any time a patient sees a new provider. This leads to patients having multiple separate medical records maintained by each provider they see, which can result in uncoordinated health care delivery.

While the paper record is intended for documentation, the electronic medical record is designed to streamline medical documentation and communication in order to provide high-quality, coordinated care. The EMR is a single, digital medical record that is accessible by all of a patients’ providers. This allows providers from different clinical specialties and practices to share information about patients through secure technology.

The EMR has many features that benefit providers and patients alike with the goal of delivering the best care possible:

  • The record is shared between all of your providers, so specialists can see what lab tests have already been ordered, can view test results, etc.
  • When visiting the Emergency Department, the care team, who might be meeting you for the first time, have quick and easy access to your record.
  • As a patient, you can access and verify your medical history, medications, and allergies via the online patient portal. The portal will also allow you to pay your medical bills electronically.
  • Having a single record, rather than multiple paper records, improves patient safety during transitions between care, such as when seeing your PCP after you have visited the Emergency Department or have had surgery.

Patients will also benefit from Epic’s ability to share records not only between SolutionHealth providers, but also with providers in other regional health care systems. This will enable the exchange of relevant health information between every member of your care team. As we adopt EMR, we hope to add even more features that will make getting care from SolutionHealth easier and more convenient.

The EMR also has the capacity to analyze data. We plan to use this function to improve individual patient care and to understand the health of our community as a whole. Having data from the patients we see every day will give us vital insight into health needs and trends of the population we serve. This data will likely have major implications on the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases in our community over the coming decades.

I could not be more excited about the future of the Epic EMR at SolutionHealth.

Andrew Watt, MD FACEP