Thursday, June 27, 2019

Grays Harbor Community Hospital Forced to Initiate Protocol for Downtime of Electronic Health Record


As Technology Evangelist but also as a huge Nirvana fan, I was immediately drawn to this story.  It deals with Grays Harbor Community Hospital in the small town of Aberdeen, Washington.  For those of you not steeped in the lore of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic were both born and raised in Aberdeen.  Nirvana frontman Cobain was actually born the this hospital.

So this post deals with a couple of things I’m fond of which are Nirvana and Technology.

It seems that there have been some issues with Grays Harbor Community.  For reasons that have not been released to the public, the medical records systems in use are not communicating with one another.  The hospital itself is run by one Electronic Health Record system (EHR), while the Harbor Medical Group rural health and speciality clinics are run by a separate system.  Basically any information entered into the hospital’s EHR system are not being communicated to the Harbor Medical Group system.  Obviously this has the potential to create some serious bottlenecks or potential for errors.

As an example, the hospital is stating that lab work run on a blood sample is readily available in the hospital, but doctors outside the hospital have no way to access that data.

The situation has become serious enough that the administrative arm of the system has voluntarily entered into the EHR downtime protocol.  This move has forced clinicians and support staff to begin using paper health records when interacting with patients.  This has created a system where communication of things such as the lab results mentioned above are being given to offices via phone calls instead of secure HIPAA compliant electronic means.

This is one of the potential problems of dealing with technology, but the IT professionals are hard at work on a solution that they hope to implement this week.  This is also a good reason for keeping all IT systems under one provider.  Over the years I’ve warned against having one database for images, one for charting, one for 3D, etc.  For small entities such as dental offices this greatly simplifies IT issues as well as simplifying backup processes as well.  I’d much rather backup one database with all of my information than ensure I’ve got 3 or 4 all backed up securely with no corruption.

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