Commission considers $30 million system to handle UMC patient records


It could be the beginning of the end for patient paperwork at University Medical Center.

The Clark County Commission will consider next week a more than $30 million Electronic Medical Records system that is expected to streamline patient information and billing records into an online database.

Brian Brannman, UMC's chief executive officer, said the electronic database would allow for security measures to protect sensitive patient information.

"The system provides a safeguard for unauthorized access with an audit trail," Brannman said. "If there's an unauthorized viewer, it should lock them out. The system knows immediately."

Patient visits, vitals, prescriptions and other information will be made available to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and billing staff, among other authorized viewers, Brannman added. That information can be cross-referenced in the database so patients aren't subject to harmful drug reactions if they have more than one prescription. It also can catch billing errors.

Patients are assigned medical record numbers for tracking rather than using a Social Security number. Should a patient's Social Security number appear in the record, the database would mask that information.

The upgraded system will bring the county-run hospital in line with technology used nationwide and with federal mandates, Brannman said.

Should the commission approve the proposal with Georgia-based McKesson Technologies, Inc., the contract would be broken down into a $27 million one-time fee, $4 million in annual recurring fees for the next four years, a $1 million reserve and $1.3 million to backfill employees and perform ongoing system maintenance.

Also on the agenda for the 9:15 a.m. Tuesday meeting at the Clark County Government Center are more than $2 million in associated costs for IT network infrastructure upgrades, travel costs and project management fees. According to those plans, it is unclear what county funds would be used for the project.

Once the system is up and running, it should save the county between $5 million and $10 million annually, a conservative estimate, Brannman said. Implementation will take a minimum of two years.

UMC officials have said the hospital provides $250 million in uncompensated care annually and generates as much revenue as it can before hitting up the commission. The hospital posted an annual operating loss of more than $70 million this year for the third straight year.

Commissioner Steve Sisolak, who has argued the hospital should be more aggressive in collecting on unpaid bills, said the database would be a small step in the right direction.

"This will increase collection and billing rates and ultimately give us a positive cash flow," Sisolak said. "It will catch a lot of billing errors quickly and be more accurate."

Contact reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@reviewjournal.com or 702-455-4519.

 

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