Atlantic Health System named a ‘Most Wired’ health care organization for 3rd year
Atlantic Health System was named one of Health Care’s Most Wired organizations for a third consecutive year according to the results of a survey released in the July 2012 issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the American Hospital Association.
Being named a “Most Wired” health care organization means that the parent company of Morristown , Overlook and Newton medical centers and Goryeb Children’s Hospital is not only effectively using the most current technology available, but is also prepared for advances in health information technology.
Linda Reed, RN, Vice President, Information Systems and Chief Information Officer, Atlantic Health System, noted that the magazine’s recognition reflected many years of careful planning and investment.
“We have taken a very forward-thinking approach to integrating information technology into the practice of health care,” Reed said. “It takes years to create the infrastructure needed to support the robust systems we have in place, as well as prepare for changes still to come.”
The achievement of the Most Wired status this year follows a flurry of changes, upgrades and new IT demands within Atlantic Health System. This included significant networking as part of physician alignment initiatives, meaningful use requirements, as well as a 6-month project to upgrade and replace the majority of Newton Medical Center’s IT systems, following the merger that brought the hospital into the AHS family in 2011.
“Achieving Most Wired status again, following a very busy year, is a great validation of the immense amount of work we’ve put into making our IT systems the best they can be,” Reed said. “None of this would have been possible without people embracing the need for these initiatives across the board.”
Hospitals with state-of-the-art technology, like those that make the Most Wired list, tend to have better patient outcomes and are more likely to meet eligibility requirements for the federal program that will offer health care providers with financial incentives for what is termed, the “meaningful use,” of electronic health record (EHR) technologies. Atlantic Health System has been preparing for meaningful use requirements. Morristown Medical Center has already received the first stage of federal approvals, and Overlook recently attested its progress to the government for approval, with Newton soon expected to follow.
Information systems are playing play a key role in some of Atlantic Health System’s major initiatives. Earlier this year, the Atlantic Health System Accountable Care Organization was selected to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Through the ACO, AHS works with groups of doctors and other health care providers to provide high quality service and care for their patients. The ACO will rely heavily on sharing patient data, which Atlantic Health System will do through its online patient portal, Relay Health.
Atlantic Health System is also a founding member of Jersey Health Connect, one of four Health Information Exchanges in New Jersey. The HIEs provide collaboration between hospital systems and physician organizations to efficiently exchange data in order to enhance care coordination. Information technology is a large component of this mission, and the approach of Jersey Health Connect, unlike other HIEs, is to allow doctors and health systems to network by using their existing digital infrastructure to avoid high costs and to minimize disruption of operation.
“As shown by these survey results, hospitals continue to demonstrate how IT not only can be used to improve patient care and safety but it is also a means to improve efficiency,” says Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the AHA. “Hospitals receiving Most Wired recognition are truly representative of our nation's hospitals and systems – rural and urban, small and large, teaching and non-teaching, and critical access hospitals geographically dispersed.”
As part of AHS’s plan, there is more to come. The organization is already rolling out computerized medication order entry for physicians throughout Morristown and Overlook medical centers. Computerized entry for Newton Medical Center will go live in the Fall.
In early 2013, AHS will roll out Horizon Expert Notes, a structured electronic system that will largely replace written and verbally-dictated physicians’ notes, eliminating legibility concerns and making the information immediately available to those who must rely on them.
“The overarching goal of these programs is to enhance safety and make patient care it more efficient,” said Dr. Veronica Daly, OB/GYN, director of medical informatics for Atlantic Health System.
As a field, hospitals are focused on expanding and adopting IT that protects patient data, and optimizes patient flow and communications. As more health care professionals embrace digitalization of medical records, there has been a greater need to protect information electronically. To that end, AHS has put numerous systems in place, including data encryption of mobile media and devices, a data loss prevention system that allows the organization to better track movement and storage of electronic personal health information, mandated employee information security training and annual security compliance audits.
The 2012 Most Wired Survey is conducted in cooperation with McKesson Corporation, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), and the American Hospital Association. The survey, conducted between Jan. 15 and March 15, asked hospitals and health systems nationwide to answer questions regarding their IT initiatives. Respondents completed 662 surveys, representing 1,570 hospitals, or roughly 27 percent of all U.S. hospitals.
For further results, please see the cover story from the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, at www.hhnmag.com.
For more information about Atlantic Health System, visit www.atlantichealth.org.