Sarah Bush Lincoln has been recognized as one of the nation’s Most Wired Hospitals for 2014, an award it has received for the seventh time. The designation is based on the results of the 2014 “Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study” published in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine.
The annual survey, now in its 16th year, assesses how hospitals use information technology to address and enhance patient safety, quality of care, public health, administrative processes and workforce decisions. This year, 1,900 hospitals, or 30 percent of all hospitals in the nation, participated in the survey.
“Technology has played a leading role in our ability to deliver first-class patient care day in and day out,” Maggie Ratliff, Sarah Bush Lincoln Vice President of Information Systems, said. “We are honored to be recognized by the American Hospital Association for the seventh time as a Most Wired hospital. Sarah Bush Lincoln remains committed to using the latest technology to provide high-quality patient care.” Ratliff said investment into digitizing medical records and information have improved services for patients. Patients now receive results from medical tests quicker and have access to their physicians at all hours of the day.
In its commitment to serve the community for generations to come, Sarah Bush Lincoln has strategically planned for future capital expenses by ensuring a strong financial position and seeking appropriate grant opportunities. In 2005, The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) awarded Sarah Bush Lincoln with a $1.5 million technology grant to implement an ambulatory electronic medical record (AEMR) system in its physician clinics. So far, 16 physician clinics are using the electronic record system. Ratliff explained that when people seek care in the Emergency Room, and their doctor’s office uses an AEMR, the ER doctor has quick access to the person’s medical record for what he/she was most recently treated.
In addition to recent implementations of electronic medical records in physician clinics, Sarah Bush Lincoln’s goal of becoming “wired” spans the entire organization. Departments such as patient billing, materials management, staff scheduling, and risk management use computerized systems to collect and analyze data. Sarah Bush Lincoln launched a new website in 2011 that offers interactivity and engagement to its users, as well as launching a patient portal. Portal participants can request an appointment, request a medication refill, view their test results and talk with their doctor or mid-level provider’s office online. People may also pay their bills online.
The nation’s Most Wired hospitals are leveraging the adoption and use of health information technology to improve performance in a number of areas, according to Health Care’s Most Wired 2014 Survey. Hospitals are focused on expanding and adopting technology that protects data and optimizes communication.
Sarah Bush Lincoln uses bedside bar coding devices to help match prescribed medications to the appropriate patient; an image archiving system so radiology tests can be easily sent to referring doctors in other organizations; and devices in surgery so the patients medical record can be quickly accessed when needed. The Health Center has also initiated medication reconciliation, which improves patient safety and healthcare efficiency by allowing clinical staff to obtain and maintain a current, electronic medication history that follows the patient through all healthcare encounters.
Of note, social media is catching on among the Most Wired hospitals for crisis communications. More than 35 percent of Most Wired hospitals use social media to deliver care management messages and 40 percent provide mobile applications for secure messaging with patients. Sarah Bush Lincoln also uses social media such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flicker to better engage the community in conversation.