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M. D. Anderson Unveils Plans for Electronic Patient Charting in Outpatient Clinics

M. D. Anderson Unveils Plans for Electronic Patient Charting in Outpatient Clinics
M. D. Anderson News Release 08/25/00

The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center is one step closer to employing electronic charting as a central information mechanism to manage the outpatient care of patients.

M. D. Anderson today signed a contract with iKnowMed, a privately-held company based in Berkeley, Ca., to begin a three-year project that will manage all outpatient information electronically and nearly eliminate often voluminous paper patient charts.

M. D. Anderson's Nellie B. Connally Breast Center will be the first to use electronic charting, beginning next June, with all other outpatient care centers adopting the system over the next three years.

Known as iKnowChart, the Internet-based technology will allow physicians and nurses to enter orders for treatments and tests, view laboratory results, and update patients charts. The system also will provide physicians with sophisticated decision-making support by providing information about clinical trials for which each patient is eligible, "red-flagging" patient allergies or drug interactions and capturing outcomes data.

According to Dr. Mitchell Morris, M. D. Anderson's senior vice president and chief information officer, the new electronic charting system ultimately will improve the quality of patient care by making information more accessible, reducing the risk of error, accelerating clinical trial recruitment, reconciling billing, and giving health care professionals more time with patients.

"M. D. Anderson has been looking into electronic charting for many years, and this is the right fit at the right time," he said. "This system will allow physicians and nurses to spend more time with patients, rather than pushing paper and dictating notes by phone."

When on line, the new charting system will allow physicians and nurses simplicity and flexibility in capturing and recording a patient's condition, said Dr. Morris. They will enter information through standard "pick lists," a multiple choice list of common information such as tumor size or stage, voice-activated dictation that will allow a physician to describe how a patient is doing on a given day, and fields for standard data and text.

As part of the project's three-year development, Dr. Morris said patient demographics and lab data contained in paper charts now will be backloaded so the electronic charting at M. D. Anderson will be seamless.

Also included in this three-year transition to electronic charting will be the addition of a Internet-based system for patients to access portions of their records themselves. Currently, all M. D. Anderson patients have access to their charts, often carrying charts from appointment to appointment. Because of the lengthy periods of treatment and follow up for cancer patients, traditional paper records can be several inches thick and weigh several pounds.

In the future, patients will have access to their records and be able to make appointments from computers at their home or within the institution.

With this new system comes an even greater consciousness of patient confidentiality and system security, said Rich Pollack, associate vice president for management information systems at M. D. Anderson.

"This new system has sophisticated security and privacy gates. Certainly, we are sensitive to the issue of patient confidentiality and the new technology, and it is topmost in importance as we build the new system," he said.

Last year, M. D. Anderson recorded 409,443 outpatient clinic visits, treatments and procedures, an increase of 11 percent over 1998 figures.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center