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Improving the Patient Experience: Jorge Scheirer, M.D. '85

scheirer photo
Photo courtesy of Jorge Scheirer '85

Jorge Scheirer, M.D. '85 wants to simplify his patients' lives.

He envisions a future where they can set up a doctor's appointment, refill a prescription, and print out medical records from a computer or Smartphone, and a future where every visit to a doctor does not begin with the usual blizzard of paperwork. Scheirer, who serves as vice president and chief medical information officer at The Reading (Pa.) Hospital and Medical Center, is leading the way to turn that vision into a reality and reduce healthcare costs along the way.

Scheirer will introduce a new electronic health records system in February 2013 to allow clinicians to view their patients' health record electronically. Health professionals will be able to access lists of their prescribed medications, allergies and health problems, and they will have the luxury of scheduling appointments, printing out records and messaging doctors all electronically. Electronic records at Reading Hospital are not new, but the idea of helping to make a doctor's visit a"verification process instead of starting from scratch" is, says Scheirer.

Using the MyChart portal, patients can access their own records with a username and login to review and/or update them; they can also fill out followup information prior to the visit. This way, says Scheirer, doctors can review the follow-up information before they see the patient.

The only worry that patients have expressed so far, says Scheirer, is privacy. But he assures them that only trained and qualified employees and physicians have access to the network, and patients can see exactly who has accessed their record.

Once Reading Hospital acquires the new system, Scheirer says that it will also be able to access patients' records from other institutions that use the same process, such as the University of Pennsylvania, the Cleveland Clinic and eventually Johns Hopkins.

Passionate about his patients, Scheirer says, "At the end of the day, one of the most important reasons why the hospital is embarking on this journey is to improve the patient experience. We want the Reading Hospital to not only be the hospital of choice for our patients, but we also want our patients to feel strongly enough about their experience that they recommend our services to others."

That passion is also the reason why Scheirer still serves as a general internist in addition to his duties as vice president and chief medical officer. Doing this, he says, helps him to "maintain the perspective of the providers giving care to real patients to see the impact of clinical informatics on the patients and provider."

And he notes that Albright helped pave his way.

Albright's "strong foundation in the sciences enabled me to go to medical school and complete all of my training," says Scheirer, who received a medical degree from Temple University School of Medicine. For a physician involved both in practicing medicine and in the administrative side of medicine, Scheirer is grateful for his Albright experience. "It gave me a well-rounded perspective that allows me to look at issues from more than one side," he says.

–Shanna Salmon '13

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