Marshfield Clinic Pioneers Leading-Edge Electronic Patient Care System

Roll-Out of Wireless Tablet Computers Underway

Aug 04, 2004, 01:00 ET from Marshfield Clinic

    MARSHFIELD, Wis., Aug. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Before most health care providers
 had seen an electronic medical record, providers at Marshfield Clinic could
 not imagine practicing medicine without one.  Now Marshfield Clinic,
 Marshfield, Wis., has begun deployment of portable "tablet computers" that
 will lead to a chartless medical environment by 2006 -- a breakthrough for a
 clinic system with nearly 2 million patient visits each year.
     (Photo: )
     More than 100 physicians and medical assistants have been using the
 tablets since October 2003 as a trial.  In July, another 600 physicians and
 other providers began receiving tablets, with about 30 tablets distributed
 each week after that with a total of 2,000 to be in use by 2006.
     Costly chart pulling will then be a thing of the past and patient record
 security will be enhanced, according to Carl Christensen, Chief Information
 Officer.  Wireless tablet computers allow Marshfield Clinic physicians to
 access electronic medical records including radiology reports and images,
 dictate, enter orders and write prescriptions electronically.
     Marshfield Clinic's newest facility, now under construction in Weston,
 Wis., will not even house a chart room.
     Marshfield Clinic has been a pioneer in developing and using fully
 integrated computer technology for patient care for almost 20 years.  With
 software developed entirely by Marshfield Clinic staff and physicians, a
 detailed electronic medical record was in widespread use by the early 1990s.
 In 1994, Marshfield Clinic implemented provider electronic signature, making
 the electronic medical record the official medical record.
     Coded information is moved to a data warehouse where Marshfield Clinic
 researchers conduct landmark population-based studies including the genetics
 research known as the Personalized Medicine Research Project.
     "Typically, you hear about hospitals making strides in the development and
 deployment of new Information Systems because hospitals have fewer patient
 records to handle," said Tom Berg, director of Clinical Information Services.
 "Marshfield Clinic is forging new territory by doing this with a patient base
 of nearly two million and 6,000 patient visits per day across 40 facilities."
     Tablet computers will allow providers to access and share information
 instantly, use ink-over forms, access the Internet and write electronic
 prescriptions.  Physicians can call up their patients' medical records in a
 matter of seconds -- including history, diagnoses, allergies, lab results and
 X-rays -- enabling them to be alerted to drug allergies or look up
 interactions with other medications, improving safety and quality in the
 health care Marshfield Clinic provides.
     "The mobility that tablet computers allow gives our physicians the ability
 to move between home wireless systems, WANs, LANs, and makes it easy to
 negotiate access to other medical facilities," said Christensen.  "Bringing
 patient records and other systems to the bedside and into the exam room will
 allow us to provide better care, reduce errors and save millions of dollars
 each year.  The cost of pulling paper charts alone could result in a
 $7 million savings annually."
     Hundreds of Marshfield Clinic physicians and other providers are lining up
 to receive tablet computers, according to Berg.  Those already using them are
 enthusiastic about the change.  Edna DeVries, M.D., a Marshfield Clinic
 pediatrician, sees it saving time and improving quality of care.
     "Pediatrics requires acute-care visits and a lot of running.  We have rich
 electronic medical records and now I pull up patient information wherever I
 am," DeVries said. "The whole system brings a real improvement to patient
 care. That's what counts."
     The Marshfield Clinic system consists of 41 patient care and research and
 education facilities in northern, central, eastern and western Wisconsin,
 making it one of the largest comprehensive medical systems in the United
 States. The main campus, located in Marshfield, Wis. is home to a centralized
 Information Systems Department of more than 240 people and Marshfield develops
 nearly all of its own software.
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SOURCE Marshfield Clinic