Medford hospitals prepare for digital record switch

Providence Medford and Rogue Regional patients' records will go electronic

For people tired of being grilled on the same questions about their medical history every time they visit the hospital, relief is on the way.

Providence Medford Medical Center and Rogue Regional Medical Center are planning to streamline their medical records and save reams of paper by going digital.

The hospitals will implement the Epic Systems record-keeping software by April. Providence already has the system up and running at all of its outpatient clinics. "This will streamline a patient's navigation through the entire system," said Dr. Jason Kuhl, a family physician and the head of Medford Family Practice out of Providence.

The goal is to cut down on duplication of medical documents, a pain for anyone who has spent time in a hospital.

For years, patients have complained they have had to fill out similar forms, sometimes within minutes, when moving through different departments of a hospital.

Epic consolidates this information, and it is sent digitally to each department for instant access, Kuhl said.

Kuhl said it wasn't uncommon for a hospital to keep 100 different types of medical records, none of which were consolidated.

Mark Hetz, chief information officer at Rogue Regional, is at a conference in Wisconsin for hospitals who have implemented or plan to install Epic. He said the testimonials have been positive by the those who have Epic running.

The hospitals will use Epic to connect patient registration, nursing and physician documentation. In addition, their pharmacies and billing will be folded into the system.

Among the other benefits will be connectedness, Kuhl said.

Patients who have gone through Providence's system can have their records shipped instantly to a hospital in, say, New York. These patients won't have to provide a detailed account of their medical histories, Kuhl said.

"The patient will give the hospital permission to access their records," Kuhl said.

Kuhl said the change to record-keeping is one of the benefits detailed in the Affordable Health Care Act passed two years ago.

He said the savings from eliminating record duplication will help keep health care costs in check.

Doctors also will have their outcomes saved and checked to see whether they are doing a good job, Kuhl said.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email

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