A RECORD Achievement

Northbay's data team

I magine: You are in the Emergency Department and your doctor decides you need an x-ray, as well as medication and some therapy. As he logs on to a bedside computer on wheels—and before he’s even done with his entry—the x-ray technician has arrived. By the time you return to your room, your medicine is waiting for you.

That’s life these days at NorthBay Healthcare facilities, thanks to a fully integrated Electronic Health Record.

There are a lot of ads these days promoting other health system’s electronic advances, and there have been some amazing accomplishments, notes Donald Denmark, M.D., vice president of Medical Affairs. But what sets NorthBay apart from other health systems, at least in Solano County, is full integration.

Not only is every health encounter entered in to every NorthBay patient’s health record, but all physicians using NorthBay’s facilities have access to that record, as they deliver care to the patient.

For example, after a diagnosis, a doctor might prescribe medication. The system will alert the doctor if the patient has an allergy, or if they’re taking another medication that might interact negatively.

“Doctors no longer have to access multiple systems to research possible outcomes. Our system is set up to deliver the best protocols for the best possible patient outcomes,” explains Dr. Denmark.

Although NorthBay has been working toward this goal for eight years, full integration finally occurred in December 2009, when the last segment of our medical population was trained to use the system.

Called “Computer Physician Order Entry,” or CPOE, the last piece of the puzzle required that NorthBay train about 225 physicians and more than 800 nurses on its use. “We’ve eliminated illegible handwriting from our system by eliminating the paperwork,” quips Dr. Denmark.

It was a pleasant surprise when the “go-live” launch went smoothly. “We were prepared for all the nightmares we heard from other hospitals, but this launch went incredibly well,” Dr. Denmark says with a smile. “It’s all about preparation. We had good planning and a well-prepared staff. We had at-the-elbow help around the clock during the launch period.”

Achieving full integration with the EHR has placed NorthBay Healthcare in a very elite group in the healthcare industry. “We are in the top 1.5 percent of all hospitals in the country,” explains Dr. Denmark. “We may be one of the smaller systems, but that’s a blessing in disguise, because we’re not tied to a large system’s politics and position. We can set our own direction and invest the way NorthBay believes will be most beneficial to our patients.”

Dr. Kyle HolmesNorthBay’s achievements have not been lost on the healthcare industry. Dr. Denmark and Medical Staff Educator Will Antipuesto were recently invited to a ZynxHealth presentation in Florida, where they shared NorthBay’s story. In addition, Dr. Denmark will visit Kansas City later this month (October) to do a similar presentation at the Cerner Health Conference, an international showcase that is attended by as many as 6,500 healthcare professionals worldwide.

What’s next? Anesthesia and the Powerchart ECG. That means that if a doctor orders an ECG, or electrocardiogram, it will automatically be entered into the patient’s health record.

Physicians can immediately compare ECGs, even superimpose one set of results on top of another. “It’s real-time documentation and accessibility at the time of services, and it’s shared across the entire system,” says Dr. Denmark.

It’s that across-the-system detail that makes NorthBay’s system so special. “An integrated EHR clearly sets hospitals above and apart from hospitals that continue to depend on paper records,” says Dr. Denmark. “NorthBay is a healthcare industry leader.”

High-Tech Tidbits

$6 million

The amount, roughly, that NorthBay Healthcare has invested each year, since 2002, to install and train staff to use Electronic Health Records (EHR).


The number of pieces of paper NorthBay saves each month by using an EHR.


Number of orders that are placed each day with our new system.

2 hours to 15 minutes

The time it used to take to register a patient in the emergency department has dropped by an hour and 45 minutes on average.


Number of nurses trained on Computer Physician Order Entry (CPOE).


Number of physicians trained to use CPOE at NorthBay.


The number of hours each doctor and each nurse spent in the final phase of training for CPOE.

4 to 1

The number of fax machines the pharmacy department used to use, compared to now.

2 hours to 30 minutes

The amount of time physicians spent each day on average playing phone tag, responding to inquiries, clarifying prescription orders and care instructions. Now they spend less than 30 minutes on average.


The percentage of hospitals in the United States that have fully integrated Electronic Health Records (including NorthBay Healthcare.)

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