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Valerie McAuley, DO, Family Medicine -
Improving Patient Care through 'Anywhere, Anytime' Access
to the Electronic Medical Record

Documented: November 2012

Your primary care physician is essential to your ongoing health and wellness. If you require hospitalization, you will want your physician to be involved in your care and fully up to date on the details of your diagnosis, treatment, and medications.

For many physicians on the Medical Staff at The Chester County Hospital, the Hospital's electronic medical record -- Soarian by Siemens -- allows them to manage their hospitalized patients from any location. Whether they are rounding at the Hospital, working at their outpatient practice, or even at home or on the road, they can issue orders and check on their patients' progress.

Valerie McAuley, DO, a physician with Family Practice Associates of Exton and Marshallton, describes how the system enables her to give better care.

"I have been here for about 10 years, and my partners and I practice the full scope of family medicine except maternity care. We see infants, women and children, adults, the elderly. In any given week, our practice might have five to seven patients being cared for at The Chester County Hospital. My colleagues and I usually do our Hospital rounds first thing in the morning before going to the office. The great benefit of the Hospital's Soarian system is that we can access it both at the bedside and remotely to manage our patients and keep tabs on them throughout the day.

Let me give some examples. This morning I went to see a patient and noticed that no lab work had been done, so I ordered it and then was able to look at the results over my lunch break. I might get a call saying I have a patient in the Emergency Department with pneumonia, and I can go right into Soarian to review their labs and chest X-rays, and then I can put in my orders directly. If my patient gets discharged from the Hospital and calls me late at night with a medication question, right away I can see what she was discharged on.

Long gone are the days of calling back and forth to the Hospital to issue orders and check on patients. Thanks to technology, everything is right there for me. It definitely increases the efficiency and the quality of care as I manage inpatients as an outpatient physician. I don't have to be on site every second to ensure they are getting the right care. Communication is vastly improved, and I can get answers to any questions immediately. I can see test results, X-rays, imaging results. If I send one of my patients to the Hospital for a stress test, I can see the results within 24 to 48 hours. I can consult with other physicians right through the computer. And I can even look back months or a few years to see what care my patient received in the Hospital.

Getting to this point has been a lengthy process that has taken about five years or so. I am on the Hospital's committee for Soarian, where a group of us meet to talk about how to use and develop this tool to best meet clinicians' needs. My feeling is that the more information access I have, the greater my versatility and independence and the better care I can give my patients. An exciting recent development is that more and more physicians inside and outside the Hospital are putting their notes and impressions about patients directly into the electronic medical record. I started doing this a few months ago, and many specialty physicians are already doing it. So let's say I have a patient who needs a consult from an infectious disease specialist. I can pop right into Soarian and read the physician's impressions -- no need to make a phone call, no need to stop into the Hospital to read the chart.

The Hospital's systems also have a new 'My Discharge Plan' feature that takes everything the patient needs to know about caring for themselves after discharge and puts it into a single document. It is very thorough and so many of my patients love it. Others still want me to go through all the details and tell them exactly what they need to do. Either way, it is an improvement over giving them bits and pieces of information from so many different sources.

Next up, our practice would like to develop an interface between our electronic medical record and the Hospital's so they can communicate with each other. It's a work in progress but it can and will be done.

Still, we are so far beyond where we were just five or 10 years ago. When our patients spend time in The Chester County Hospital, we know the exact 'who, what, when, where, why, and how' of their care. This access is liberating the medical community, eliminating mistakes, and making sure we can always give terrific care. It has been an amazing transformation and I can honestly say I enjoy my job more because of it."

By Kristine M. Conner

Last Updated: 11/30/2012