Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Carroll Hospital Center upgrades for better care

Carroll Hospital Center has upgraded its medical record technology to provide better and more efficient care to its patients, according to hospital representatives.

According to Jennifer Moore, interim chief information officer, Carroll Hospital Center has upgraded to new hospital information software called Paragon, which allows for more integration of all aspects of patient care, so that all the hospital personnel involved can more easily view what is going on with a patient and do so in real time.

"We're moving to a more up-to-date, industry standard platform," she said. "A physician, nurse or pharmacist can more easily get the information they need to effect care. They don't have to go through as many clicks or steps to pull up a patient's information."

Dr. Jed Rosen, chief of surgery and chief medical information officer at Carroll Hospital Center, said the software the hospital had been using up until last month was a clunky patchwork of different programs.

"The old system, called Horizon, was a product that was a conglomeration of multiple database programs that were squished together ... to add functionality on a piecemeal basis," he said. "We used to bounce around through several programs to access information, whereas now we can open one program and get everything at a glance."

Rosen said that if a patient now comes in to the emergency department with a sore throat, there is a single program that he can access from anywhere, be it in the office, on his phone or at home on his iPad, which shows him what is happening in real time.

"I can see the lab results, the X-ray study, and then flip to another tab and see the emergency department doctor's documentation while he is still filling it out," he said. "I don't have to wait for him to finish and then call him. It's much more streamlined."

According to Stephanie Reid, chief nursing officer and vice president of quality for Carroll Hospital Center, by making information sharing easier for physicians and nursing staff, the hospital hopes to make care more efficient and comprehensive.

As an example, Reid said that community physicians will also have improved access to their patient's information when their patients visit the hospital, ensuring consistent and coordinated care in and outside Carroll Hospital Center.

"The ability to have providers more readily get the information out of a medical record will enhance their ability to keep track of testing that has been done," she said. "Doctors in the community will have a better view of lab and test results."

According to Moore, the new Paragon software comes from McKesson Corporation, a major provider of health-care information systems that had also been the vendor of the hospital's previous system.

When McKesson notified Carroll Hospital Center that their previous software would soon be retired, Moore said they decided to upgrade to Paragon right away rather than wait until the deadline. The clinical benefits were notable, as were the potential cost savings.

"When McKesson approached us, they transferred our license fees so the initial cost of this project was significantly lower than if we had gone to find another vendor for a new product," she said. "I can't tell you the exact savings because we never got an outside bid, but typically for a hospital of our size, an information system would be in the tens of millions of dollars. This system was much less."

According to Moore, Carroll Hospital Center took more than a year to prepare for the change over to the new software.

"We had a 12-14 month implementation timeline and we have gone live on Paragon as of Jan. 27," she said. "It is a completely different user interface, so it required a tremendous amount of training. We began training in mid-November and the entire staff here at Carroll Hospital Center has been retrained."

According to Reid, feedback from physicians and nursing staff on using the new system has been mostly positive, though there has been some of the awkward period associated with adopting a new way of doing things.

"There is a learning curve, but they are doing very well with it," she said. "The training really set them up to be prepared."