“We are actively moving towards this,” Cox said. “We know Holy Name is not the only community hospital facing the same problem as us.”
Holy Name’s primary goal, Cox said, was to create a tool that gathers information about healthcare facilities so that patients have access to a single record of their medical history.
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Existing EHR systems were “scattered,” Cox said. Holy Name has been using its own EHR for its inpatient departments for about 20 years, as well as a third-party product in its emergency department, she says.
“We needed an enterprise solution,” Cox said. “Most of the EHRs on the market today, which are for hospitals and healthcare businesses, are not really integrated.”
Cox joined Holy Name in 2018 as part of an effort to recruit a technology team with EHR software development experience. Cox was unable to provide an estimate of the cost of creating an EHR.
The product development process for the Emergency Department deployment included working closely with Holy Name’s clinical staff, patient access, and coding and billing staff, who provided feedback to the software development team.
Holy Name is also building a patient portal for its more than 70 doctor’s offices, preparing to expand the individual electronic health record across its network over the next few years.
While the New Jersey Health System isn’t the first to create its own EHR system, it remains a rarity these days, said Adam Sabe, partner in the West Monroe Health and Life Sciences practice. In the 1990s and early 2000s, healthcare systems more frequently installed on-demand electronic health records, but the market is now dominated by commercial vendors such as Epic Systems and Cerner.
Seib says building an EHR system is an “ambitious” and resource-intensive project. Software development takes time and money, he says, and software must be constantly updated to include new technologies and keep up with changing regulations.