Starting today, medical records at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing and the Zumbrota and Ellsworth clinics will merge with an electronic database shared by all other health system locations and doctors.
The electronic medical record, or EMR, system will mean instant access to patient records and “seamless coordinated care between all Mayo Clinic Health System sites,” according to Dr. Tom Witt, president and CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing.
Among the advantages of sharing medical records is a reduction in repeat procedures and lab work for patients seeing specialists across Mayo Clinic Health System, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jack Alexander said.
Public affairs specialist Marcy Dowse said patients have complained in the past for getting tests done in Red Wing only to have to go through them again — for an additional charge — when going to another clinic in the system.
“That shouldn’t happen anymore,” she said.
A unified EMR also brings new possibilities for telemedicine with Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Alexander said, including a planned “electronic delivery room” service that will provide real-time access to a neonatologist remotely.
The changes further include a new Patient Online Services program to pay bills and access data such as lab results, clinical notes and medication lists from home, the health system says. Those patients using the previous MyChart program will have to register again with Patient Online Services to continue accessing those records.
Alexander said the migration to the shared database has been in the planning stages for little more than a year since the Red Wing facility was acquired from Fairview Health Services in 2012. Until today, they were using a number of legacy systems left over from before the changeover.
“The resources that Mayo Clinic Health System has brought to this are phenomenal,” Alexander said, adding that close to 100 staff members were involved in the transition process.
Preparation for the switch has been extensive, Alexander said, and included up to 10 hours of training for medical providers on how to use the new system. Physician schedules over the next couple weeks also will be reduced so they have more time to get used to the change.
Greater sharing of protected medical records brings concerns about patient confidentiality, but Alexander said security and regular technology audits are integral to the organization’s information systems infrastructure.
“We’re very intentional about making sure that only people who need information can access it,” he said.
Mayo Clinic Health System has been implementing the shared EMR system in phases, with the first clinics adopting it as far back as eight years ago, Dowse said.
“It’s a tremendous tool and we’re very excited about it,” She said. “It’s been a lot of work and a lot of stress, but it’s going to be so good for our patients.”