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Electronic records valuable to the health department

Recognizing the value and benefits of the system, the Barton County Commission Wednesday morning approved the renewal of the Nightingale Notes Electronic Health Record subscription for the Department of Health.

In December 2017, the commission approved the purchase of the software at a cost of $20,478, chief medical officer Karen Winkelman said. The department was billed $29,731 by Champ Software for the 2023-2024 subscription of 23 named licenses.

“I anticipated costs would increase from last year, so I budgeted for that upfront increase,” he said. Even so, he’s still within budget.

It’s an annual renewal fee, and the subscription runs from March 1 to February 28, 2024. Explored a multi-year subscription, and a three-year contract would save you about 5%.

However, the field of electronic records is fluid and better options may be available, he said. So, he didn’t want to tie the department to this rate for such a period.

Worth the money

“Over a period of about five years, we have 29,806 customers in the system,” he said. “This has been a really good EMR for us.”

They’re looking to improve it with a partnership with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to bring some of its program information into the system, he said.

“That’s more people than we even have in Barton County,” District 3 committee chair Shawn Hutchinson said impressed.

“Over the three years of the COVID pandemic, that number just increased rapidly,” Winkelman said. “And if we had to create paper charts for each of them, the cost would have been phenomenal, along with the cost of employee workload. So this was very good.

His department uses it for documentation and billing and they are able to scan the records that come their way. “And we’re also able to pull data out of it as it’s electronic, which is a necessity for grants,” she said.

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