Paper era ending in medicine - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Paper era ending in medicine

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The hospital. If you feel like you need to bring a pen when you come here, you're not alone. It seems like the forms that you have to fill out are never ending.

"It's a common complaint by patients, you come to the hospital you keep constantly being asked the same questions over and over," said Jesse Diaz, the Chief Information Officer for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital.

That's because those forms that you had to fill out when you checked in can sometimes get lost in the shuffle if your visit stretches from a few hours to a few days. But changes are on the way.

A few years ago, if you had to check into the hospital, you might have had to fill out mounds of paperwork. But now that paper is giving way to a new, electronic way of doing things.

As part of a plan to cut medical costs and increase safety, the federal government is giving incentives to bring more technology into the medical field. At both Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital and Palmyra Medical Center, the push towards the use of electronic medical records is not a new concept.

"It has been going on for about two years," said Karen Hayes, the Chief Financial Officer of Palmyra Medical Center.

Both hospitals are expected to be done with the transition to automation in the next couple of years. When it's finished, the incoming patient can expect to see a difference in the way their health care is delivered. Take something like giving out medicine, for example

"With automation, you scan the patient, scan the medication, the nurse scans her badge. So we know who's giving the medication, what time, at what place, what type of medication, what is the dose, those types of things," Diaz said.

And while some patients might worry about cyber security, both Diaz and Hayes say that protecting your patient information was one of the first things that was done when the transition started.

Hayes said, "we already have that in place. Information is secure. We have firewalls."

The end of the era of paper can't come soon enough for some in the medical community.

"It's space consuming, time consuming, resources, human resources consuming. It's very exciting, we've been asking for it for a very long time," Hayes said.

So in the next few years, when you have to go to the hospital you can finally leave that pen at home.

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