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Charting our future

Michael Ross, MD, FAAP, dons a stethoscope and cares for our youngest patients at EMMC Pediatric Primary Care. He brings that wealth of clinical experience to his leadership role in informatics and his new role as a workgroup leader, tasked with helping to implement the systemwide electronic health record (EHR) as part of Pathways to Our Future.
DSC_0163.JPGThe EHR project will transform the way we provide care to patients across the system by combining all patient medical and financial information into one record that can be shared seamlessly across our system. Dr. Ross is part of the workgroup of more than 150 people who gathered in the Cianchette building auditorium for the official EHR kickoff on December 12. He is the leader of the ambulatory care workgroup, which is focused on outpatient services. “I am excited to see the benefits for not only my own practice, but how it works for others as well,” he said. He and other physicians are eagerly anticipating a voice recognition system that will allow doctors to record notes into the EHR system. “Voice dictation increases the efficiency of the EMR—the less time spent in the record, the more time providers can spend with their patients.”

Jennifer Fogel, BSN, RN-BC, another of the workgroup leaders, is also seeing a glimpse into a future with EHR. In her day-to-day work as director of nursing informatics at Eastern Maine Medical Center, she’s reviewing data to improve workflow for her nursing staff. She sees this role as a workgroup leader as an extension of that. “I see that the work we’re doing is going to improve the workflow and it’s going to give nurses the time back to the patient so that they can feel like they’re really caring,” Jen said, adding that the leadership team working on the Pathways to Our Future initiative has already taken one suggestion from nurses to streamline the process of admitting patients. Jen’s nurses currently have to fill out 300 different data entry points when admitting a patient to the hospital. As part of the EHR process, they are reducing that number down to 65 to 70 data entry points. “This is going to set the stage for the whole project for nursing because it’s going to show that we truly listened to them," Jen explained.

DSC_0055.JPGThe examples cited by Jen and Dr. Ross are just two of the dozens of improvements that have been identified, with employee input, by EMHS leadership on the Pathways to Our Future Oversight Committee working in conjunction with Cerner. The Oversight Committee, made up of April Giard, MSN, NP-BC, chief nursing information officer; Michele Lauria, MD, chief medical information officer; Kyle Johnson, chief information officer; and John Doyle, vice president of finance, laid out a roadmap for the project in a PowerPoint presentation during the kickoff. “Our staff was ready to see the information and get started,” April Giard said.

There are 16 different workgroups including nursing, ambulatory, patient access, and patient financial services, to name a few. These groups have been assigned 51 different projects for the coming year. “This process is designed to engage staff and empower them to make decisions,” April said. The workgroup leaders will now take their projects, organize meetings, and develop agendas as they roll up their sleeves and begin their work in earnest. Dr. Ross, for one, feels good about the process so far.

He shared, “I’m excited; this satisfied all the concerns that I needed to see addressed. I wanted to see the focus on ambulatory as well as the focus on a systemization process where one provider in Primary Care can talk to a provider in cardiology or another provider at TAMC and be able to network across the system to coordinate patient care. This provided a vision for that.”

For more information about Pathways to Our Future, click here or visit