Providence Southern California Names Elizabeth Petrich Kennedy Chief Nursing Informatics Officer

March 29, 2012

Emerging Career Path Spurs Electronic Records Upgrades

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 27, 2012) - Elizabeth Petrich-Kennedy is a pioneer of sorts, taking the role this week as the first chief nursing informatics officer for Providence Health & Services, Southern California.

The position combines Petrich-Kennedy’s passions for both patient care and technology. As CNIO, she will work with nurses and the interdisciplinary team as Providence broadens its use of electronic medical records and related technology.

“As we expand our electronic medical recordkeeping and add more components to improve patient care, Elizabeth will help streamline the systems, working with nurses to make sure they understand the new programs and utilize them to their full capacity,” said Katherine Bullard, chief nursing officer for Providence Southern California. “She is perfect for this role, trained as nurse and a nurse educator, and proficient in the new technology.”

Petrich-Kennedy has been with Providence Health & Services since 2002, working in the nonprofit healthcare system’s Southwest Washington Region and with the team implementing the new Epic system, an advanced integrated electronic medical record system. She began her career in nursing in critical care and later worked as a nurse educator. She evolved into a technology expert at a time when the nation’s hospitals are converting to computerized records systems that can be shared among healthcare providers.

In Washington, she helped choose the clinical systems, and then assisted in building, designing and implementing the EMR system.

Two of the Providence Southern California region’s five medical centers, Providence Saint Joseph in Burbank and Providence Holy Cross in Mission Hills, Providence are preparing to convert to a more advanced computer-based patient record program than that currently in use. Providence Tarzana and Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers in Torrance and San Pedro have upgraded their systems in the last several months.

Petrich-Kennedy said she was drawn to the emerging field of nursing informatics by a desire to make more meaningful use of the information provided by patients and to make the process more efficient.

“Informatics is about the collection of data, easy access to that data, the elimination of redundancies and even developing early warning system for some patients based on the collected data,” Petrich-Kennedy said. “Informatics allows me to care for patients in a new way and to provide care for doctors, nurses and other professionals in what can be a daunting process.”

As Providence Southern California installs newer, more elaborate EMR systems at its five Southern California medical centers, the healthcare organization is building a companion system that will track individual patients’ data and determine specific risks. That program will allow for preventative care, or possibly early diagnosis, to avoid more serious conditions.

Electronic medical records also provide more accurate patient profiles because of they are far more comprehensive than individual paper records.

“If you have a patient who has been seen by several physicians in a succession of visits, and has changing lab results, we now have the ability to collate all that data in one place,” she said. “That allows us to improve communications among the various healthcare providers and to enhance care. It’s a huge benefit to patients.”