An $8 million upgrade that will integrate separate computer systems at the Neshoba County Hospital and Nursing Home and streamline billing is under way.

The project is being done in collaboration with Cerner Corporation a supplier of health information technology based out of Kansas City, Mo.

According to hospital Director of Information Technology Kyle James, Cerner is one of the major players worldwide in healthcare IT solutions.

James said that over the next several months Cerner will have what he called a “small army” on site working with hospital employees to train them on the new system.

The new system will integrate not only the different parts of the hospital, but will  better integrate the hospital’s billing system with the hospital’s patient records system.

The change is due to the hospital’s currently separate systems. For instance, according to hospital Director of Clinical Informatics Heather Nelson, the hospital is on one system, implemented in 2012, the clinics are on a separate system implemented in 2014 and the nursing home on yet another system.

Nelson said there were some departments in the hospital that were still on paper records.

Nelson said it was not uncommon for hospitals to have separate systems, but integrating those systems will help simplify work at the hospital.

Nelson said the new system will allow the hospital to have a one patient one record system. No longer will patients have to answer the same question multiple times depending on what department they are in.

“Our current financial system is over 20 years old,” Nelson said. “Another benefit of our new system is that it will allow us to have one account, one bill and one statement.

Nelson said another benefit of the new system will be what she called the patient portal. This will allow patients to log into their own patient file to view their information.

Nelson said the system will also be cheaper in the long run. Currently the hospital is expending resources on a number of different platforms including maintenance and upkeep fees.

With one system the hospital will not need to pay different vendors for services. The system will also be easier for staff in that employees will only need to learn one system not several systems.

James said his part of the project is to make sure the hospital’s IT infrastructure is fully up to date. He said as part of the conversion the hospital will move to 90 percent virtual desktops which will allow information to be shared freely within the hospital.

He said for instance that a nurse could review information on a computer in the patient’s room and then quickly pull that information up in their office with a simple swipe of an ID badge.

James said the new system will allow the hospital to have a greater level of security on client data.

“It will be much easier to provide security with one system,” James said.

James said that Cerner is going to make the hospital more innovative overall.

Nelson said the new technology will make the hospital “top notch,” and able to compete on a technological level with other larger hospitals.

Conversion to the new system will be complete by February 2019 when the system officially goes live.