Sparrow launches advanced information technology project

Published: Aug. 25, 2009

LANSING, Mich. - Sparrow, mid-Michigan's largest health system, today announced the launch of a long-term, extensive health information technology project that will bring the most comprehensive hospital-based electronic medical record (EMR) system to the region. EMR systems represent the type of technological advances that have the power to transform health care by enhancing the quality of patient care, empowering consumers to be more involved at every level of care and maximizing the value of each dollar spent on health care.

Sparrow has selected Epic Systems Corp., a world leader in EMR technology, to implement the new EMR system in three phases. Epic clients include 180 health systems throughout the United States. Sparrow's medical staff selected Epic based on its superior ability to support high-quality care, facilitate efficient information capture and sharing, and its reputation for achieving high physician and nurse satisfaction.

Sparrow executives praised Epic for its strong industry reputation and its proven implementation methodology with a strong on-time, on-budget track record.

"By providing vital information whenever and wherever it's needed, clinicians can make better decisions and spend more time with patients and their families, rather than tracking down paper charts and test results," said Director of Clinical Informatics and Care Transformation Michael Zaroukian, M.D., Ph.D., who serves as medical director of Sparrow's EMR project. "Whether a patient is seen at a physician's office or at the hospital, caregivers will have access to a patient's health information and tools to support optimal clinical decisions, which translates to better, safer and more coordinated care."

Sparrow has consistently led the region in delivering the most advanced technology available in patient care, including being the first in mid-Michigan to introduce the da Vinci Surgical System, a revolutionary robotic surgical platform, in 2005. In 2008, the community celebrated the opening of the 10-story Sparrow Tower, which includes a state-of-the-science emergency department and all-private patient rooms. This year, Sparrow Hospital was recognized as a Laureate by the Computerworld Honors Program. This program, governed by the not-for-profit Compterworld Information Technology Awards Foundation, has acknowledged organizations that have successfully made exemplary use of information technology to benefit society.

When the three-phase EMR system is fully implemented, Sparrow will be mid-Michigan's leader in bringing world-class EMR technology to the region. This multi-year project, representing tens of millions of dollars, would be the single largest hospital-based health information technology investment in the region.

"True integration across the health system sets Sparrow's EMR project apart," said Sparrow EMR Project Director Kathy Smith. "An EMR most effectively improves patient quality when there is system-wide integration rather than silos."

The first phase of this multi-year implementation will include installation of an office-based EMR for physician practices and ambulatory care centers, as well as technology infrastructure improvements to support the new systems.

"Starting the project in the Sparrow physician offices will allow us to make an immediate impact across the region," said Sparrow Vice President and Chief Information Officer Thomas Bres. "We're establishing an EMR standard in our employed physician practices that we will later offer to any physician affiliated with Sparrow. This will increase the connectivity and interoperability of physician practices across the region."

This EMR and practice management solution - registration, scheduling and billing - in Sparrow's employed physician practices will be deployed in conjunction with a document management system to give physicians electronic access to paper-based medical records and the ability to remotely sign chart documents. Epic has a number of state-of-the-science tools to safeguard patient privacy, confidentiality and data security, which, when used with other tools to restrict access to authorized users will keep patient data safe, accurate and complete.

"With this exciting EMR project, Sparrow is not only investing in the health of the individual patient - we are investing in the health and vitality of the entire region," said Sparrow President and CEO Dennis A. Swan. "Bringing advanced EMR technology to mid-Michigan is one more way for Sparrow to advance our vision of being a national leader in quality and patient experience."

Future phases of the project will include implementing an EMR in various hospital-based inpatient services and clinical areas