What does the EMR mean for me: HIS and Clerical perspective

Northern Health will soon be paper light when the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is introduced in 2023. This organisational change will not only benefit Northern Health in resulting a reduction in average time per shift spent documenting end-of-shift notes, having a single patient record that will provide accurate and up-to-date information about patients at the point of care, implementing an EMR will also help us reduce annual expenditure relating to printed forms, and many more.

When we start using the EMR, all patient registration and movement will be happening in real-time to enable any clinical documentation to happen. For the Health Information System department (HIS) and from a clerical workforce perspective, this means clerical staff will be responsible for registering the patient in iPM, checking if the patient is in the right location and encounter in the EMR PowerChart, and performing a specific patient search in decreasing the possibility of duplications of patient information and encounters. Scanning will continue for Community and Specialist Clinics Outpatients and there will be less volume of Inpatient scanning.

“Having a centralised record will eliminate the risk of double documentation, which in return reduces transcription errors and improves patient safety, and our clerical staff will be the center of realising this benefit”, explains Daniella Chapkoun, EMR Nursing Informatics and Benefits Analyst.

One of the other benefits of implementing an EMR is positive patient identification, each inpatient patient will have a patient ID wristband with a barcode/ QR code identifying the patient and is linked to a specific encounter*. In cases where the patient is moving from one Northern Health campus to another, for example, from Broadmeadows to Bundoora, this patient move will create a new encounter. This means that clerical staff in Bundoora will be responsible for printing a new wristband to ensure any clinical documentation happening after the patient is transferred will be linked with the new encounter. The wristbands will also be colour-coded in red to alert clinicians that the patient has known allergies.

“Implementing an EMR at Northern Health is a significant change to our cohort of non-clinical staff. While there might be new responsibilities for our clerical staff to take on after go live, such as printing and updating ID wristbands, some tasks will remain the same. We expect to see some decrease in everyday tasks, for instance, there will be a reduction in paper scanning for inpatient settings, however, we expect to see new workflows our clerical teams will support also”,  says Odette Taylor, A/g Director Health Information Services.

The cohort might also experience an increase in EMR administration such as requests for Release of Information (ROI) and Freedom of information (FOI) as information will then be exported from EMR via report request instead of using CPF.

“The EMR and HIS team are working closely to determine changes and the full impact on our HIS and clerical workforce. We are witnessing an increase in engagement and inquiry about the EMR. Rest assured, we will be setting up briefings with the wider cohort group in the coming months to give project updates, as well as answering any questions that the group might have for us,” says Cliff Wiltshire, EMR Training Manager.

We have 39 HIS and clerical staff enrolled in our EMR champion program, where the EMR team gives EMR updates and system demonstrations on a monthly basis. Reach out to your local EMR champions if you would like to be up to date with our project. Alternatively, more information on what EMR will mean for clerical staff, ward clerks, ED clerks, and HIS clerks can be found here.

Paper scanning will still occur in outpatient, specialist clinics, and hybrid workflows when documentation are to be documented on paper. For example, consent.

*An encounter is defined as a single patient interaction with Northern Health that holds relevant clinical information for the patient.

Featured photo (left to right, top to bottom): Melissa Sajeva (Operations Manager Coding and Casemix), Odette Taylor (A/g Director Health Information Services), Christine Nicolaidis (A/g Operations Manager Health Information Services), Claire Ross (A/g Operations Manager Datasets Reporting Unit, Jodi Nicholls (Operations Manager, Ward Clerk Workforce) David Mangano (A/g Associate Director Health Information Services)