'Most Wired' Hospital Survey Shows Progress on EMRs

The latest Hospitals & Health Networks survey names the Most Wired hospitals and shows physicians are making progress on EMRs and electronic data management. Still, barriers to implementation remain.

Hospitals & Health Networks, a publication of the American Hospital Association's Health Forum division, has announced its annual list of the Most Wired hospitals in its July 2010 issue.

This year's survey, which H&HN conducted along with health care solutions provider McKesson and CHIME (College of Healthcare Information Management Executives), listed 99 hospitals out of 555 surveys submitted. According to H&HN, the study's objective is to track hospitals' development by the degree of their health care IT implementation.

Winners for this year's list included the 99 Most Wired, 25 Most Improved, 25 Most Wireless and 25 Most Wired - Small and Rural Hospitals.

As part of an overhaul in how the survey is carried out, the publication turned to more CIOs for input and organized criteria into four areas: business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety, care continuum, and infrastructure. H&HN also revised the survey to accommodate meaningful use regulations for managing electronic medical records.

The survey shows that significant barriers remain for technology adoption in hospitals.

"The survey results highlight that continued progress is being made, but the full potential of health IT has not been met," said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association (AHA), in a statement.

"Hospitals embrace health IT and recognize the many benefits it can provide to patients, but even Most Wired hospitals face barriers to adoption. We have asked that the federal government stimulate greater adoption by making Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments more widely available to hospitals and physicians so more hospitals can move in this direction."

Of the Most Wired hospitals in the survey, numbers lagged a bit, suggested H&HN: 43 percent of independent physicians are equipped to document medical records electronically, 41 percent use CPOE (computerized physician order entry) and 44 percent make use of decision support.

H&HN reported that some of the hospitals listed in its Most Wired list, such as Atlantic Health in Morristown, N.J., are providing patients with at least partial access to their medical records. Patients can e-mail doctors, be sent lab results and update their medications.

NorthShore University Health System, of Evanston, Ill., provides access to a full portal.

Of the hospitals that made the H&HN Most Wired list, 57 percent place medication orders electronically, an increase from 49 percent a year ago. And 55 percent of Most Wired hospitals use bar coding or RF (radio-frequency) identification to match prescription orders at bedside, an increase from 49 percent a year ago.

In 2010, 41 percent of hospitals overall use physician alerts for physician, nurse and pharmacist workflow, while 83 percent of Most Wired hospitals use this technology (an increase of more than half).

The full H&HN survey can be found on the publication's Website.