Reprinted with permission from “NurseZone.com”
It’s no secret that wired solutions can help increase revenue or reduce the bottom line, especially in the hospital and healthcare setting.
For facilities that made information technology a priority, a few received a prestigious honor—a spot on this year’s 100 Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems list.
The list is published by Hospitals & Health Networks, a monthly magazine of the American Hospital Association. It’s based on the 11th annual Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study.
The survey looks at hospitals’ use of information technology in five key areas: safety and quality, customer service, business processes, workforce, and public health and safety.
It was made possible this year through a partnership among H&HN, McKesson Corp., the American Hospital Association, and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives.
“This is our fifth time,” and fourth consecutive year on the list, said Dave Fiser, interim chief information officer at Akron General Medical Center in Akron, Ohio. “They’re always changing and raising the bar on the qualifications for it, so it’s pretty exciting for us.”
For several years, Akron General has been enhancing a secured physician portal that allows doctors to gain access to clinical results from virtually anywhere—the office, home, hospital, or while traveling.
They can review lab, radiology, cardiology, demographic information, transcribed reports, medications, patient electronic flow sheets and PACS images via a desktop computer, laptop or tablet PC. “We continually add new features to it,” Fiser said, citing bar-coded medication administration at the bedside as an example of the physician portal’s versatility.
For patients and visitors, Akron General offers WiFi on its wireless campus. Patients have the ability to use wireless laptops or tablet PCs, he said.
Recently the hospital implemented electronic medical records in physician offices and a system for submitting prescriptions electronically to pharmacies. It also rolled out My Help Online for secured messaging between patient and physician.
Sharp HealthCare in San Diego, California, has won the “most wired” award all 11 years that it has been offered. The system includes four acute-care hospitals, three specialty hospitals, two affiliated medical groups, and a health plan.
“There is recognition at Sharp HealthCare that technology is both a key part of operations and is a market differentiator as well. That means that we need to continue to invest in that innovation in order to move forward, both from a patient care, as well as a marketing perspective,” said Sandra McCullough, vice president of patient care information systems.
Greater efficiency results from eliminating the need to re-enter information. “The ability to get to the clinical data from across the enterprise eliminates duplicate testing for the patients, and gives the provider a comprehensive view of the patient’s care, whether the patient was in ED, acute care or at the doctor’s office,” McCullough said.
Among hospitals receiving the “most wired” honor for the first time is Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Maine. Last year, the hospital launched the “virtual critical care solution project.” It’s a powerful approach to assisting affiliates that typically don’t have intensivists and other experienced critical care clinicians available, said Martin Keresey, process lead coordinator.
Big LCD screens and cameras allow physicians to view patients at affiliates in very rural areas. The farthest of seven hospitals in Eastern Maine Health System is located along the Canadian border.
“It’s like an electronic way to care for a patient,” Keresey said. “It’s a second set of eyes. Our specialized trauma doctors at Eastern Maine Medical Center can see these patients at the affiliates that are five hours away. They can actually care for these patients.”
Another large information technology project making an impact is computerized physician order entry. The latest enhancement in Maine is a setup for inpatient and outpatient chemotherapy orders.
“Throughout each project’s conception, design and go live, the focus is on improving communication and closing the gap between clinical/information system worlds,” Keresey said, while adding, “We strive every day to provide the greatest benefit possible to patients and staff through the use of information technology.”