Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Computerized Patient Records Unique to VA

March 25, 2003

Computerized Patient Records Unique to VA

CPRS automatically sends a physician an alert in order to ensure that a medical problem is quickly tackled.

Released: 2003/03/25

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"The patient computer system at the Houston VA Medical Center makes me feel extra comfortable about getting my medical care there. No matter what clinic I go to when, they can pull my records up and make sure everything is going smoothly, and that I am receiving the right treatment," said veteran Jerry Shultz (above left) with Hardeep Singh, M.D.,Houston VA Medical Center Primecare physician.

photo by Agenda Burnett, HVAMC Media Section

HOUSTON, TX - U.S. Army Veteran Jerry Shultz likes the fact that every one of his doctors and nurses at the Houston VA Medical Center (HVAMC) knows his medical history, what his medications are, and the results of all of his medical tests. He also appreciates the computer system that allows them to better work together to provide him with the very best health care.

"The patient computer system at the Houston VA Medical Center makes me feel extra comfortable about getting my medical care there. No matter what clinic I go to when, they can pull my records up and make sure everything is going smoothly, and that I am receiving the right treatment," said Mr. Shultz.

Once again, the HVAMC is ahead of the game with its unmatched patient care technology. The Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS) in place at the HVAMC has allowed the medical center to progress in its management and utilization of patient information. The patient directly benefits from the sharper accuracy, consistency, and speed that the system has brought about.

CPRS is a unique advantage for veterans because most other non-VA hospitals and medical centers lack such a sophisticated patient record system. Many still rely on paper records. Even the computer records of other hospitals do not stand up to the capabilities of CPRS. For example, the writing of progress notes is a feature that cannot be found in other systems.

"Since its introduction, CPRS has revolutionized the practice of medicine in our hospitals. The providers' task of ordering and tracking tests, consultations, procedures, and medications has been made much easier. This system has made patient care safer and more efficient, and has helped save precious time," said Hardeep Singh, M.D., HVAMC Primecare physician.

Dr. Singh has observed, firsthand, the difference CPRS has made. CPRS is a system that stores a complete record of a patient's medical history. All clinicians at the HVAMC can access this information immediately.

For example, if a doctor would like to check the date of a patient's most recent appointment and what happened during the appointment, the information can be effortlessly retrieved. Data such as a physician's notes or blood test results are also readily available.

CPRS also allows physicians to view images such as x-rays and create charts to interpret data. If there is any indication of unhealthy results, CPRS automatically sends a physician an alert in order to ensure that the problem is quickly tackled.

Different departments around the hospital are directly connected through the system. This way, a radiologist is immediately aware when a doctor orders an x-ray. This reduces the delay between patient appointments, and diagnosis and treatment.

Doctors and nurses at the HVAMC go through extensive training so they can use CPRS to the fullest advantage of the patient. Clinicians can smoothly maneuver through the user-friendly system. Templates make information on the screen easy to read.

When a patient record is pulled up, basic information such as name, social security number, and birth date appear. When information is added, it is promptly stored and can be quickly retrieved. Health care providers input information into a database simply by typing into a screen with various interfaces that clearly display patient data.

In the past, the documentation of patient data at the HVAMC involved stacks of paperwork. Even one missing document from a patient's chart can cause difficulty.

Now, HVAMC clinicians and patients can be thankful that paperwork is a thing of the past. Doctors no longer scribble medication orders onto slips of paper either. The ability to precisely communicate with CPRS has substantially reduced medical errors of all types.

In addition, veterans do not have to worry about the confidentiality of their information. CPRS is a safe haven that is equipped with multiple safeguards to keep information between only patients and authorized clinicians.

Veterans, like Mr. Shultz, can rest assured that HVAMC health care providers are working together to provide the very best health care, and that the HVAMC offers the very latest in medical information processing technology and security.

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written by Sheena T Oommen, HVAMC Public Affairs Intern

Point of Contact: VHAHOU Public Affairs

04/21/04 08:25