Bartlett officials are back at the drawing board trying to decide on the best long-term plan for the hospital’s medical software needs after a decision made about three years ago has failed to come to fruition — largely due to increasing costs.
Interim CEO Jeff Egbert invited a software consultant to the hospital’s planning committee meeting Thursday to go over possible solutions as the hospital transitions to a new leadership team after a myriad of resignations last year.
“One of things the board asked me to do was to keep things moving and help get projects back to a forward momentum,” Egbert said.
Keith Ryan, the founder and president of Cornerstone Advisors, was brought in to answer question from board and staff members as the hospital looks to chart its course in the medical software arena.
“You want to be sure the system you select today is going to support your needs in the future,” Ryan said, adding that choosing the wrong system could have “astronomical” financial implications for the hospital.
The software is used to store and make remotely accessible all aspects of patients’ health records and information, said Jim Strader, Bartlett’s director of community relations and marketing.
“It’s an electronic medical health record,” Strader told the Empire. “Patient information was done on paper before, so the whole point is to have (patient records) all available anywhere in the country.”
The amount of security that must be built into the programs to keep such confidential records safe means the software doesn’t come cheap, he added.
“Medical software by its very nature is very, very expensive,” Strader said.
Different systems vary in cost, but the figures are in the millions of dollars, he said.
Choosing the best one then becomes a balancing act of considering the cost, ensuring it will operate in sync with other medical offices in the region and state, and then picking the one that does the best job of addressing the unique needs from different parts of the hospital, Strader explained.
The hospital has been using a software called “Meditech Magic” since the mid 1990’s.
Egbert said at the meeting that staying with the system currently in use is one of the options being considered.
There are three other options — one of which is a newer system also from Meditech — that seem to be the best options for Juneau given the hospital’s size, needs and budget, Ryan told the planning committee.
Some present Thursday protested that changing the system will result in a loss of efficiency, but Bartlett Board of Directors President Kristen Bomengen said that shouldn’t deter the hospital from planning for its long-term needs.
“If we’re in a changing environment, then that plan can account for change, but we need a plan,” Bomengen said. “We know at some point we’re going to lose efficiency to convert to anything else.”
There is no definite timetable as to when the hospital will select or implement a new system, Strader said.