The University of North Carolina Health Care System teams with IBM to implement advanced electronic medical system for one million patients

Chapel Hill 01 June 2006The University of North Carolina Health Care System (UNC Health Care) and IBM have set up an advanced Web-based solution which allows over 7000 caregivers to access important medical data across in-patient and out-patient units and document patient care faster, easier and at reduced operating costs. This comprehensive, interoperable electronic health record system, called "WebClinical Information Systems" (WebCIS) creates the foundation to securely deliver vital information anytime, anywhere via the Internet and has replaced the paper chart for almost one million patients who visit UNC Health Care annually.


Most large medical institutions that utilize electronic health records have one system for ambulatory care and another application used in the hospital setting. In most cases, these disparate systems are unable to communicate and exchange data with each other, making it nearly impossible to access comprehensive patient information when and wherever it is needed most.

By using the IBM Health Information Framework, which is based on industry open standards and a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to connect information from disparate medical systems, the new UNC Health Care WebCIS solution gives caregivers secure, single sign-on to access multiple applications, including lab reports, medical imaging, patient phone call information, scheduling, health maintenance and disease prevention modules, electronic signature/referring provider communication and more.

Since this solution integrates and synchronizes all patient information from both the hospitals and ambulatory care areas, patient safety and clinical efficiency has increased dramatically. This type of SOA approach will help UNC Health Care increase the flexibility of business process, strengthen underlying IT infrastructure and reuse IT services already deployed.

For example, the WebCIS solution helps care providers in the Emergency department immediately access comprehensive patient information such as medications, allergies, health maintenance status, previous medical device images and all text-based reports of prior treatments all within a matter of seconds, rather than the usual 10-20 minute wait for a paper chart.

"Helping our caregivers gain quick and secure access to the most up-to-date medical information is critical as we continue to provide the quality care we are known for", stated J.P. Kichak, Chief Information Officer, UNC Health Care. "Working with IBM, UNC Health Care has been able to develop and implement an advanced Web-based system that provides the tools and flexibility to handle current patient demands as well as future growth."

With WebCIS, "on-call" providers now have full access to patient information on multiple devices, including Web-enabled PDAs and smart phones, making it possible for them to glean as much historical patient data as necessary, wherever they are, in order to make more informed decisions about care directives.

Because of this new solution, UNC Health Care is one of the first large institutions to be able to transmit prescriptions electronically in real time to participating pharmacies within the state of North Carolina and across the nation. In addition, UNC Health Care is working on a SOA-based link with a service provider to check duplicate drug, drug interaction and dosage information on outpatient-based prescriptions.

"Innovative changes are taking place in the manner in which health care is administered", stated Dan Pelino, general manager, IBM Healthcare Life Sciences Industry. "Organisations like UNC Health Care are leading the way by implementing patient-centric systems, such as the IBM Health Information Framework, that will significantly improve delivery of patient care and help increase clinician satisfaction while reducing costs."

IBM Health Information Framework (HIF) is an open standards based framework, based on service oriented architecture (SOA), designed to give health care providers, health care benefit organisations, public health and pharmaceutical companies the flexibility to integrate and manage clinical and administrative business applications independently of the underlying computing platform. HIF is the foundation to connect and organize business processes from disparate clinical information systems and allow secure access to comprehensive patient information anytime, anywhere via the Internet. Based on work with partners and customers, HIF's integration capabilities and partnering programmes enable interoperability of applications, services and their supporting processes.

The UNC Health Care System is a not-for-profit integrated health care system owned by the state of North Carolina and based in Chapel Hill. It exists to further the teaching mission of the University of North Carolina and to provide state-of-the-art patient care. UNC Health Care is comprised of UNC Hospitals, ranked consistently among the best medical centres in the United States; the UNC School of Medicine, a nationally eminent research institution; community practices; home health and hospice services in seven central North Carolina counties; and Rex Healthcare and its provider network in Wake County.

Leslie Versweyveld

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