07.05.2011 Back to News

Forum Feedback: MHS Financial Update

The following questions were submitted to Forum Feedback in response to the recent Online Forum, “MHS Financial Update: Strengths & Challenges.” 


What about more lighting controls to cut energy costs?

Q: I thought it might help electrical costs if automatic light timers were placed in the family lounges. There are hours here, and I assume on all floors, where the lounges are not occupied.

A: Thank you for supporting cost cutting and energy conservation. Automatic, energy-efficient lighting control is the required standard for every new construction and renovation project at Methodist. As our budget allows, we are adding motion sensors to some of the existing lighting on our campuses, targeting low-traffic areas first.

Motion sensors help us cut the cost of lighting unoccupied areas. Staff can help by reminding patients, visitors and co-workers that in areas with motion sensors, the lights may turn off after a period of time with no movement in the room, and a simple wave of the hand will turn the lights back on.

– Tom Eiserman, Vice President of Integrated Service, Methodist Health System

What about paperless patient records? Or printing much less paper per patient?

Q: Why waste paper and staff time to print and file orders, notes, labs and other test results that are online in Cerner? Why do any of our hospital units print daily home medication reconciliation lists for every patient, whether or not the patient will be discharged that day? When will paper charts become obsolete?

A: Several employees submitted similar questions about reducing or eliminating the use of paper in our patients’ medical records, and we thank you for spotlighting one of our highest priorities. Methodist Health System is currently in a transition period between paper and electronic records, working steadily toward our goal of full implementation of the electronic medical record (EMR) by June 2012.

Implementing what the government calls “meaningful use” of the EMR and other information technology is central to our Cerner Evolution, described in an earlier Online Forum ("Meaningful Use for the Meaning of Care"). We are making tremendous progress, especially in the use of electronic medical records in our ambulatory clinics, which include Methodist Physicians Clinics and our hospital-based outpatient clinics. Our ambulatory clinics no longer make paper charts for new patients, and we no longer print and file paper copies of test results, notes and dictation for ambulatory patients.

However, we still have a long way to go to achieve full EMR implementation in all units, including our inpatient facilities, by June 2012. Your suggestion to stop routine daily printing of home medical reconciliation sheets is especially welcome, and we are reassessing this process now.

The advantages of using electronic medical records extend far beyond the savings of staff time, paper, printing, filing, scanning and long-term storage of hard copy records. Replacing paper with electronic records puts the information at caregivers’ fingertips in real time to improve patient care and safety, continuity of care, outcomes, communication, teamwork, efficiency, customer service, required reporting and public health.

Our use of electronic information technology will keep expanding, and we thank you for your continued support. New features scheduled to go live this fall include the ability for caregivers to view quality measures for each of their patients at the point of care, as well as the debut of an interactive patient portal that will give patients real-time access to and control over their health information and appointment scheduling. More information about the Cerner Evolution is available through the Cerner “Game On” icon on ERNIE.    

– Steven Zuber, MD, Chief Medical Information Officer, Methodist Health System

Supervisors, please post for employees with limited computer access.

To comment on this Online Forum, send an e-mail to ForumFeedback@nmhs.org.