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Maura Thiele, Internal Medicine Associates

Maura Thiele is office manager for Internal Medicine Associates, the oldest private practice located at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Maura supervises the 40-year old practice with its seven physicians and more than 2,000 patients. She wasn’t looking for an additional project – especially one that involved making a transition from paper files to Electronic Medical Records (EMR).

“I’m busy normally,” she said, “but to add this project on top of what I do is a lot of stress.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) believes EMR plays a critical role in achieving a higher quality, safer and more effective health care system by improving the accuracy and availability of patient health communication at a lower cost. According to a 2008 study by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), 41.5 percent of physicians reported using some form of EMR systems.

Many physician practices, such as Internal Medicine Associates, have delayed making the transition from paper to electronic medical records because of the additional work and expense it involves. To encourage the process, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is offering monetary incentive programs for Medicare eligible professionals who adopt, implement upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of EMR technology.

Fortunately for Maura, Northwestern Memorial Hospital introduced her to the professionals at MIS Computer Healthcare. “They came in and did a walk through to see what we had and what our work flow looked like. Then they put together a proposal for what we needed and we moved forward from there. I must say, now that we’re up and running, MIS was spot on.”

MIS professionals designed and installed a wireless structure, as well as installed new PCs for the staff and physicians. Additionally, the MIS project manager worked with Northwestern Memorial Hospital to provision network necessities with the EMR vendor. When the install and configurations were complete, MIS trained the physicians to use their new tablets and the staff to use their new devices.

“MIS has such a good working relationship with the hospital,” Maura said. “That’s been invaluable to me.”

One of the benefits to using EMR is patient record availability – both for the physicians and the patients. With the new system, Internal Medicine Associates physicians can access patient records at night and on the weekends from home on their tablets, providing swift and more effective patient care. Like Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Internal Medicine Associates uses eCW EMR software, which gives hospital physicians access to IMA patient records whenever one of their patients is brought into the emergency room.

Internal Medicine Associates is still in the process of transitioning from paper to EMR, but Maura is looking forward to a more efficient process once all of their patients have matriculated. “I’m a big fan of MIS,” Maura says. “Every time I run into a roadblock, if it is something MIS could help with, they always respond. It’s really nice knowing you have that kind of support.”