Western North Carolina Health Network to link 16 area hospitals to electronically share critical patient information

Asheville 26 January 2006Western North Carolina Health Network (WNCHN) has launched a solution that will link 16 area hospitals together to electronically share critical patient information. The innovative solution, which was implemented by IBM Global Services and AccessPt., is the first regional health information organisation in North Carolina and one of the largest in North America. Four WNCHN hospitals, Angel Medical Center, Haywood Regional Medical Center, Rutherford Hospital and Transylvania Community Hospital, are currently connected, with a total of 16 hospitals scheduled to be linked to the system in the coming months.

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This solution allows participating doctors and other authorized hospital clinicians to quickly, easily and securely access patient information over the Internet in a matter of seconds. Access to this information will allow participating hospitals to view patient records so they can more accurately and efficiently provide treatment and avoid duplication of costly tests.

"Western North Carolina is at the forefront of creating an integrated approach to health care", stated Congressman Charles Taylor, who secured $2,5 million in federal grants to implement the project. "With 75.000 hospital visits in this region last year, this approach will result in reduced wait times, improve the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment, and help make patient care more affordable. Over time, I hope to see additional hospitals, physicians' offices and clinics integrated into the system so more and more of our residents can reap the benefits of this innovative solution."

During the first phase of the implementation, IBM and AccessPt. created a virtual electronic medical records system that will link the 16 WNCHN hospitals. The application uses adapters, developed by AccessPt., customized to the hospitals' unique systems to provide a standardized view of the data, with all patient data remaining on the member hospital's clinical information system of origin.

"We were searching for an efficient and effective way to share patient information - within each hospital and across our broad region", stated David Rice, WNCHN president and CEO of Haywood Regional Medical Center. "Using IBM and AccessPt.'s solutions makes patient care more affordable by reducing overlapping tasks such as data entry and document management, which can also reduce human error."

The system will offer participating hospitals:

  • Easy-to-use application - just point and click
  • Information securely accessible over the Web
  • Single user sign-on to access patient records
  • A secure audit trail
  • Reduce risk of duplicate patient records
  • Increase doctor and clinician productivity
  • Leverage existing hospital health information system investments
  • Secure patient information; compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996

"Interoperability in health care is one of IBM's key focus areas", stated Gail Gulinson, vice president of health industry, IBM Business Consulting Services. "It supports our belief that exchanging and using electronic health information between patients and consumers, among clinicians, and between the private and public health sectors is critical for the health care industry to achieve necessary quality and efficiency improvements."

"Privacy and security are a big area of focus for the WNCHN team", stated Mike Drake, president and CEO of AccessPt. "When creating the virtual electronics medical records application that runs on IBM middleware, we knew it was necessary for participating hospitals to share information in a safe and secure manner. The AccessPt. Federated Data Model approach meets those objectives."

The technical solution includes IBM WebSphere Application Server and AccessPt. health care portal technology. IBM will host the solution through its e-business Hosting Services, which will provide the hub for virtual private network (VPN) connectivity between the member hospitals. VPN will serve as the gateway to the member hospitals' clinical information systems.

The WNC Health Network is a collaboration of hospitals, county health departments, Mountain AHEC and other health care providers to support the delivery of cost-effective, quality health services to the Western North Carolina region. The Network's members include Angel Medical Center, CarePartners, Cherokee Indian Hospital, Harris Regional Medical Center, Haywood Regional Medical Center, Highlands-Cashiers Hospital, The McDowell Hospital, Mission Hospitals, Murphy Medical Center, Pardee Memorial Hospital, Park Ridge Hospital, Rutherford Hospital, Spruce Pine Community Hospital, St. Luke's Hospital, Swain County Hospital and Transylvania Community Hospital.

IBM Healthcare and Life Sciences brings together IBM resources, including information technology, deep industry insights, and research expertise, to help clients develop and deliver safer, more affordable and more effective diagnostics, drugs and medical care.

AccessPt., a developer of Internet software solutions, utilizes Web browser and portal technologies to maximize their health care integration expertise. AccessPt. leverages existing HIS applications to function as the central viewpoint for all patient data. With a library of over 100 proven application interfaces, AccessPt. is recognized as a leading authority in the industry. More company news is available in the VMW June 2005 article MercuryMD and AccessPt enter formal partnership leveraging strengths to benefit current and potential customers.


Leslie Versweyveld

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