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Electronic medical records for MHI

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Updating 1981 system over 18 -month period

By Dan Whitney

Staff Writer

At their quarterly meeting at the Cherokee Mental Health Institute on January 26, Industrial Technology director Al Stange and Health Information Services director Roxanne Moller told members of the Board about the ongoing process of updating the facility's medical records system.

The current billing system was installed in 1981, and many changes, in both technology and in the rules and regulations of Medicare, Medicaid, and other laws, have necessitated a major upgrade to an electronic system for medical records.

Such a system will allow the MHI to be more unified and integrated with other state agencies, all of whom have had their own systems and terminologies in the past.

The four state MHIs -Cherokee, Independence, Clarinda, and Mt. Pleasant - as well as the Civil Committment Unit for Sex Offenders (CCUSO - on the MHI grounds), and the Resource Centers in Glenwood and Woodward, will all be installing the Avatar System over the next 18 months - a massive undertaking , done in three phases - the admissions, discharges and transfers, the pharmacy portion, and the medical work stations.

June 2008 is the target date to have the entire system installed. It is expected that they will most likely lose some efficiency during the first three months while people get adjusted to the new system, but that after a year or so on the new system, they expect to see a great improvement in efficiency.

The state hopes that one of the eventual outcomes of this project will be to bring more standardization and unification to record-keeping among all state agencies. Neighboring states of Nebraska and Minnesota have either already installed such a system, or are in the process of doing so.

Jason Smith, Superintendent of CCUSO, and Mike Porter, director of the West Cedar RCF/PMI, also reported on their facilities, and these reports will be included in the Chronicle Times special Progress 2007 issue in February.

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