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Use of electronic records growing at Health Department
Cost seems high, but software benefits county
Barton County Health Dept.jpg
Barton County Health Department

In approving the renewal of the electronic medical records software contract for the Barton County Health Department, county commissioners Monday morning noted it was sign of how times had changed.

Electronic medical records are the digital equivalent of paper records or charts at a health provider’s office. In December 2017, the commission approved the purchase of Nightingale Notes Electronic Health Records and first-year subscription from Champ Software, Health Director Shelly Schneider said. 

The Health Department has received a billing of $25,585 from Champ Software for the annual subscription of 20 named licenses for the period of March 1, 2020 through Feb. 28, 2021.  

“We’re getting better at it,” she said. As they use the software more, they are discovering more things they can do with the program.

Last year, they added 10,000 records, but they are only a third of the way through the files that need to be scanned.

“It has improved our level of service,” she said. 

“Twenty-five thousand dollars sounds like a lot of money,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “But that is the cost of doing business.”

Two decades ago, there was no need for something like this, she said. But today, it is an integral part of health care.

“When government grows, there is a reason it grows,” she said.

As of yet, Schneider said there is no way for her department to interface records with those of other health-care providers. For now, there are just too many privacy concerns, she said.

Health Advisory Committee expanded


In order to make it even more beneficial, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved a resolution revamping the Health Department Advisory Committee. The committee wishes to change membership requirements from the current seven to not more than nine. 

Of that number, no less than five of the committee would be from the allied medical field with at least one appointee being a physician and at least one appointee being from the animal health field, Health Director Shelly Schneider said. 

“The advisory council has been very important to me,” Schneider said. “They have provided great insights.”

It already has a physician, veterinarian and school nurse on board, she said. Now, “we want to get more of an eclectic group in there as well.”

In addition to membership, other suggested revisions including the removal of the committee bylaws from the resolution. This way, changes like adding membership can be done without having to approve a new resolution, Schneider said.

Her office is now seeking applications for the committee expansion, having received one already.