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FAQ

What is an EHR, and how does it benefit patients?

An electronic health record is a complete digital record of patient encounters that allows providers to automate and streamline workflow in health care settings. An EHR benefits patients through increased safety, evidence-based decision support, quality management, and outcomes reporting. They are an investment in proven technology that will improve patient outcomes.

Will my privacy be protected?

Digital information is encrypted and protected by “firewalls” and constantly changing combinations of personal login / passwords. An EHR is arguably more secure than using paper charts, memo pads and faxes, which may be misplaced and are susceptible to unauthorized copying, theft, and/or physical damage.

Is this related to National Healthcare Reform?

No, this is completely unrelated to the current national healthcare reform debate. However, it is required that all hospitals and physician offices use EHR’s by 2015 or face significant reimbursement penalties.

Where is the money coming from?

SHC will borrow the funds from a bank in order to purchase and install a $1,500,000 certified EHR system in 2010. After sending various reports to demonstrate “meaningful use”, SHC will receive the maximum incentive funding available (93%, or $1,395,000) no later than July, 2012.

Why is it so expensive?

Compared to what many other hospitals have spent – or are spending – we have a good deal. SHC will not have to add additional IT staff, and we are saving money because the host server is at the vendor headquarters. The SHC Board of Trustees, medical staff and senior staff have been performing due diligence and studying the options and vendors for the last 18 months. We are confident that the vendor choice www.cerner.org is outstanding and that they will provide us excellent service and value.

What is the urgency?

The maximum incentives to purchase and install an EHR are only available next year. After that, the incentives rapidly decline – and the penalties for not having an EHR increase. SHC and district taxpayers will have to come up with an additional $350,000 for each year beyond 2010 that we delay. One of the six SHC Values is “Stewardship”. It is good stewardship of public funds to move on implementation.

What happens if SHC doesn’t implement EHR?

There are a range of options – none of them good.

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