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Syracuse hospital begins using new electronic medical record program

A demonstration of the Upstate MyChart app
Ellen Abbott
A demonstration of the Upstate MyChart app

The records of outpatients at Upstate University Hospital are entering a new digital world.  The hospital has started installing a new electronic medical records program that will among other things, allow patients to access all their medical records on their computers or smartphones.  Hospital President Dr. David Smith says this is a transformational moment in medicine.

“This is real time advice and connectivity,” said Dr. Smith. “This is way beyond the home visit. This is something that can occur at any time of the day, any hour of the day and be able to give assurance, comfort but also intervention when needed.”

There are two prongs to this new system.  First it will let doctors immediately give patients a summary of a doctors appointment.

“An after visit summary is a summary of what happened in your visit today, what goals we might have for you for your healthcare, it might be to lose weight, it might be to keep your sugars low, it might be any of those particular things,” said Seidberg. “It also tells you what medications you’re on, where your prescriptions are sent from and what you need to do to get your scripts are where you need to go to get your labs.”

From there you can sign up to access to that information from your smartphone or computer using a program called Upstate MyChart. The app is available from Apple’s app store or the Android Market. For those who may be skittish about trusting the digital world with their medical records, Upstate’s Information Officer Terry Wagner says the system keeps records confidential and they won't get lost.

“You really can’t lose anything," said Wagner. "The data is actually stored in the same database that’s used by the providers. So it’s only accessed and pulled together to be presented to the patient when they sign in to the system.”

Family medicine gets first crack at the program. The confidential electronic medical records will be in all offices at University Hospital by the end of the year.  Hospital officials expect about a third of patients to take advantage of the Upstate MyChart app. The new system is being funded through the federal stimulus program and has already created about 40 jobs.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.