By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
The Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees decided last week that it was time to replace TMH's decade old computer system.
With a unanimous vote, the board approved to lease finance a $750,000 system from Custom Programming Services, Inc. (CPSI), a Dallas-based computer company. The new system should be in place April 1, 2002.
Leasing the new system will cost TMH about $180,000 a year for the next four years, at which time the hospital will be able to claim full ownership of the new system, said TMH administrator Randy Phelps.
"You're leasing the system with a buy out at the end at which time you own it," Phelps said. "The deed is transferred to you when you finish the lease."
TMH's current computer system has been in place since 1990, which is a long time in the computer world, said Alice Rigney, TMH human resources director and leader of a nine person team formed to research computer systems available on the market.
"Technology and health care have changed significantly in 12 years," she said. "Our current system can no longer properly meet the needs of patients and physicians at TMH."
The system will enable the hospital to provide faster and more accurate entries of patient billing, clinical and financial data.
"As things are happening to a patient it will immediately be noted on a chart," Rigney said. "It will make us much more efficient. We're all pretty excited about getting a new system."
Rigney used IV poles as an example of one of the new luxuries the CPSI system will provide.
IV poles, which are wheeled from room to room, will each have an individual computer attached to them containing medical data, she said.
Purchasing the new computer system is also another step in becoming compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA), where federal legislation has tightened hospital's regulations in regard to security and privacy of patient health information.
The nine person team that conducted the search for new computers narrowed its choices down to three different systems, at which time hospital employees had an opportunity to critique the systems and choose which system they liked.
One reason CPSI was chosen, Rigney said, was the company offered an in depth training teaming of between 20 and 25 people who would be sent out with the new system to train the TMH staff.
"That's one reason we chose them," she said. "Going through a computer system change is hard."
In case a decision were made to build a new hospital in the near future, the new computer system would not create a problem in the move.
The system is completely mobile in case the decision was made to build a new hospital, Rigney said.
It was better the hospital was getting the computers now, so people can learn the new system in familiar surroundings, in comparison to trying to learn one's way around a new building in addition to trying to learn a new computer system.
CPSI would also have people on hand in the case of a TMH move.
"We arranged in the contract with the company that they will move the system for us at no additional expense," Phelps said.
Overall, Phelps said, the new CPSI system will be a worthy investment.
"This will truly give us a state of the art information management system," he said.