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NorthShore University HealthSystem Named Among 2009 Most Wired and Most Wireless Hospital Systems

7/20/09 - For the sixth consecutive year, NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) has been named one of the Most Wired hospitals in the country according to the results of the 2009 Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study released this week in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. NorthShore has also been named one of the Most Wireless hospitals, which includes EvanstonSkokieGlenbrook and Highland Park Hospitals.

“Our electronic medical records and its associated applications is ‘how we do business’ with our patients”, said Steven Smith, Chief Technology Officer for NorthShore University HealthSystem. “Our physicians can get access and use the systems through remote access from anywhere as well as in any location inside our hospitals or their offices.”

The economic crisis is forcing many hospitals to make tough decisions with scarce resources, including delaying and scaling down information technology (IT) projects, according to a newly released survey of America’s “most wired” hospitals and health systems.  While progress has been made and incentives to implement IT will be available through the recently passed stimulus legislation, many hospitals still have a long way to go.

The 100 Most Wired hospitals are torn between building on their IT successes and keeping a sharp eye on budgets.  Marking its 11th year, the Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study continues to lead the field in analyses and benchmarking of healthcare IT. 

Smith says, “While we have carefully reviewed all capital expenditures, the importance of connectivity to our clinical and administrative applications has made it clear to us the necessity of making these expenditures.”

“The economic slowdown is forcing hospitals to look closely at IT spending,” says Alden Solovy, executive editor of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. “Most Wired hospitals are doing their best to stay the course.”

To complicate matters, the great unknown of health care reform looms in the near future and a number of regulatory changes are already heading down the pike, including the shift to ICD-10. 

“As the health reform debate continues, it’s clear that IT will play an even more important role in the health system of tomorrow,” says Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA).  “Most Wired hospitals help illustrate IT in action—improving efficiency, quality and safety of care while helping to control costs.” 

Hospitals also continue to invest in IT that supports quality and safety initiatives. Investment in electronic medication management is considered one of the fundamentals of using IT to improve care.  The 2009 Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study shows an overall increase in both provider order entry of medications and electronic bedside matching at the time medications are administered.

Creating this electronic system at NorthShore University HealthSystem was a joint project among hospital staff and physicians, according to NorthShore’s Chief Information Officer, Tom Smith. He says NorthShore Board members felt strongly about system-wide connectivity and provided the funding to implement it. “Our clinicians need wireless capability to gain access to patient information at the point of care in all locations in the hospitals.”

The Most Wired Survey is conducted annually by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the AHA, which uses the results to name the 100 Most Wired hospitals and health systems. It focuses on how the nation’s hospitals use information technologies for quality, customer service, public health and safety, business processes and workforce issues.

Hospitals & Health Networks conducted the 2009 survey in cooperation with McKesson Corp. and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. The July H&HN cover story detailing results is available at www.hhnmag.com.