"Patient care is at the heart of these initiatives", stated Alden Solovy, executive editor of Hospitals & Health Networks, the journal of the American Hospital Association, which has named the 100 Most Wired hospitals and health systems annually for five years. "Hospitals are empowering patients with information and providing tools to doctors and nurses to improve quality."
Alden Solovy explained that the nation's 100 Most Wired hospitals are emphasising clinical quality and patient services in their efforts to remain technology leaders. The survey was conducted by Hospitals & Health Networks, in co-operation with McKesson Corporation and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). It measures the nation's hospitals on their use of Internet technologies for safety and quality, customer service, disaster readiness, business processes and workforce issues.
"Hospitals are investing in IT to help them achieve their strategic objectives, especially in the areas of quality, safety and efficiency", stated Barry P. Chaiken, M.D., vice president, medical affairs, for the Information Solutions division of McKesson. "There's a strong and growing recognition of the value that comes from having the right information at the point of care. That value takes the form of greater care team efficiency, less variability and fewer errors, and ultimately improved health outcomes."
Analysis from this year's survey results shows that the nation's Most Wired hospitals have made a significant commitment to exploring how Internet technologies can improve patient education at the bedside. Twelve percent of the Most Wired have hospitalwide Internet-enabled bedside patient education programmes. An additional 42 percent of the Most Wired have pilot programmes. Most Wired hospitals are using Web-based technologies to feed readings from clinical equipment directly into the medical record.
Seventy percent of Most Wired organisations push readings from cardiac function monitors to medical records. 71 percent of Most Wired organisations push blood glucose monitor readings to medical records. Most Wired hospitals continue their drive to make customer services available via the Internet: 42 percent provide preregistration, 87 percent offer physician referrals, and 53 percent provide appointment scheduling.
Most Wired hospitals are deploying electronic disease surveillance systems: 55 percent have partially electronic methods of disease surveillance and 26 percent have fully electronic methods of disease surveillance. Results from the survey were used to name the 100 Most Wired, the 25 Most Improved, the 25 Most Wireless and the 25 Most Wired Small and Rural. More than 400 health systems responded to the survey, representing 1128 hospitals or 19 percent of United States hospitals.
The 100 Most Wired are the organisations that scored highest on the survey. The 25 Most Wireless are those that scored highest on the survey questions specific to wireless applications. The 25 Most Improved are organisations not appearing on the 100 Most Wired list whose score improved the most from 2002 to 2003. The 25 Most Wired Small and Rural are small and rural organisations not appearing on the 100 Most Wired list that scored highest on the survey. Ties in the Most Wireless and Most Wired Small and Rural categories resulted in longer lists.
Hospitals & Health Networks, the journal of the American Hospital Association, conducts the Most Wired survey annually. McKesson Information Solutions is a division of McKesson Corporation, a provider of supply, information and care management products and services designed to reduce costs and improve quality across health care. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society provides leadership for the management of technology, information and change. The entire report can be found at the Web site of the Hospitals & Health Networks Journal.