Hospital System to Connect Doctors to EHRs
(04/12/2011)

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Sutter Health, one Northern California’s largest systems of hospitals, clinics and affiliated medical groups, announced it is investing more than $50 million to help connect independent Northern California physicians to its Epic Systems Corp. electronic health record system.

Regional hospital corporations within Sutter’s not-for-profit network will make in-kind donations to qualifying independent physicians that cover up to 85 percent of software and related implementation costs, officials at the 24-hospital system said.

The program, known as Sutter Community Connect, augments its existing Sutter Connect for affiliated medical groups. There are 550 independent doctors connected with Sutter in the Sacramento area.

Sutter officials said the Epic software option “expands Sutter Health’s sizeable investment in building a fully integrated EHR system” for doctors and their patients in Sacramento, the Bay Area and parts of the Central Valley served by Sutter.

Doctors in more than 100 Northern California communities can use the system, Sutter said. It includes a “robust HER” for clinical care management and software applications for registration, scheduling and billing. It meets current standards and has been certified by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology as being compliant with criteria for eligible providers and hospitals adopted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sutter said.

The new software option “can boost (clinical) outcomes and efficiencies, which ultimately means more quality, affordable care,” said Dr. Jeff Burnich, senior vice president and executive officer of the Sutter Medical Network.

Sutter Physician Services, Sutter’s health care management and administrative services arm, will oversee the community physicians’ roll-out beginning this summer.

The hospital chain previously installed an Epic-based EHR system in each of its medical foundations, and is working to implement electronic health records throughout its affiliated hospitals. That process came to a near halt during the recession, but appears to be back on the agenda.

Sutter’s EHR currently connects more than 12,000 doctors, nurses and other care givers, the officials said, and nearly 450,000 Northern California patients use its My Health Online to access some of their health records and to “partner” with their doctors in managing their health.

 

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