New Jersey hospital builds EHR, with plans to commercialize

“We are actively moving toward that,” Cox said. “We know that Holy Name is not the only community hospital that is facing the challenge that we are.”

Holy Name’s primary goal was to build a tool that collects information across care settings so patients have access to a single record of their medical histories, Cox said.

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The system’s existing EHRs were “disjointed,” Cox said. Holy Name has been using an in-house EHR for its inpatient units for about 20 years, along with a product from an outside vendor in its emergency department, she said.

“We needed an enterprise solution,” Cox said. “Most EHRs in the marketplace today that are catered toward hospital and health system enterprises aren’t truly integrated.”

Cox joined Holy Name in 2018 as part of its effort to recruit a technology team with software development experience to build the EHR. Cox could not provide an estimate for how much the EHR cost to create.

The product development process for the emergency department rollout included close collaboration with Holy Name’s clinical, patient access, as well as coding and billing staff, who provided feedback to the software team.

Holy Name also is creating a patient portal for its more than 70 physician practices as it prepares to expand the custom EHR across its entire network over the next few years.

Although the New Jersey health system isn’t the first to make an in-house EHR system, it remains uncommon these days, said Adam Seyb, a partner in West Monroe’s healthcare and life sciences practice. In the 1990s and early 2000s, health systems were more likely to set up bespoke EHRs, but commercial vendors such as Epic Systems and Cerner now dominate the market.

Building an EHR system is an “ambitious” and resource-intensive project, Seyb said. Software development takes time and money, and the programs must continually be updated to incorporate new technologies and keep up with shifting regulations, he said.

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