South Georgia Medical Center is one step closer to implementing its Computerized Provider Order Entry (CPOE) electronic medical record (EMR) initiative. Beginning Tuesday, August 7, SGMC will transition its first unit, 5-west, to an all-electronic medical record format. Physicians admitting patients to 5-west will be required to use the new electronic medical record system for all rounding orders.SGMC, like all hospitals in the US, is under a Federal requirement to fully implement electronic medical records by 2014. The requirement to convert to electronic medical records now, allows hospitals to be eligible to receive Federal incentives for implementation if hospitals meet meaningful use criteria. Meaningful use means hospitals and doctors are using electronic medical records to write patient histories, order medications and report quality improvements. SGMC’s Chief Medical Information Officer, Jim Sinnott, MD said, “Transitioning to an electronic medical record format will enhance patient safety and care with integration and cooperation from our affiliated medical staff.”Current Federal regulations are pushing America’s hospitals towards electronic records so that it can slow rising healthcare costs and improve patient safety by reducing duplicate tests and human errors that result from poor handwriting and unclear abbreviations. Failure for hospitals to achieve certain metrics, including quality and information technology indicators, will jeopardize their full participation with both government and private payors. To add the necessary computers and monitors needed for electronic patient records, SGMC’s inpatient nursing stations were renovated last year. According to Chief Medical Officer, Kimberly Megow, MD, SGMC has been working with its Standardized Order Set Committee to create electronic forms that look like the paper counterparts. “While we know there will be a learning curve, we are hopeful that the transition will go smoothly. Other units will be transitioning to EMR over the next few months until all unit are electronic,” Dr. Megow said. From 2015 onwards, penalties are likely to be levied on entities dealing with patient healthcare data that are unable to upgrade themselves to electronic records. SGMC is pleased to be in the forefront of the hospital EMR initiative.For more information, contact Community Relations at 229-259-4421 or visit www.sgmc.org.