Atlantic Health System was again named one of Health Care’s Most Wired organizations for a fourth consecutive year according to the results of a survey released in the July 2013 issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the American Hospital Association.
The cover of the July issue of the magazine, announcing the 2013 award winners, features Linda Reed, RN, Vice President, Behavioral and Integrative Medicine and Chief Information Officer, Atlantic Health System, with an article inside highlighting Atlantic Health System’s strides in implementing information technology, including the exchange of information and the organization’s embrace of meaningful use.
“We are rapidly nearing the point where information technology not only enhances the quality and delivery of health care, but becomes an inextricable, vital part of it,” Reed said. “This year’s Most Wired recognition marks a unique point for the immense amount of IT preparation Atlantic Health System has undertaken.”
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. For the last several years, Atlantic Health System has been preparing for meaningful use requirements. As of June 2013, all of the system’s hospitals have successfully attested for meaningful use stage 1.
Atlantic Health System is also a founding member of Jersey Health Connect, one of four state grant funded 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. The HIE allows member hospitals and organizations to access and update information about patients within the network.
The achievement of the Most Wired status this year follows ongoing changes, upgrades and new IT demands within Atlantic Health System, including significant networking as part of physician alignment initiatives and meaningful use requirements. Atlantic Health System now has about 400 physicians who receive hospital information directly into their electronic medical records system.
Information systems play a key role in Atlantic Health System’s major initiatives. In 2012, the Atlantic Health System Accountable Care Organization was selected to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. Through the ACO, Atlantic Health System 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 the HIE and its online patient portal.
According to a 2012 Pew Research Center study, 31 percent of mobile phone users used their phone to look up health information, almost twice as many as in 2010. That number is expected to increase. One of Atlantic Health System’s IT initiatives has been to develop a comprehensive mobile health strategy, which involves both developing and acquiring mobile apps that will help physicians and staff provide care and engage patients in the care they receive. The first app that has been developed and piloted is one that allows physicians involved in the ACO to send referrals to Atlantic Health System’s centers of excellence. Another app will soon be piloted allowing physician-to-physician referrals.
“Health care has always been mobile, but not until recently has technology been able to truly support it,” Reed said. “The challenge now for us as health care providers is to change our processes to deliver that real-time care.”
As part of Atlantic Health System’s plan, there is more to come. The organization has rolled out computerized medication order entry for physicians throughout the system, and is preparing to implement on-line physician progress notes. In early 2013, Atlantic Health System began planning to roll out Horizon Expert Notes, a structured electronic system that will largely replace written and verbally-dictated physician notes, eliminating legibility concerns and making the information immediately available to those who must rely on it.
The organization also recently debuted a virtual desktop technology that allows physicians to access their desktops remotely, including on mobile devices. This year, Atlantic Health System expanded the ability for patients to request appointments and pre-register for appointments through the patient portal on the website (atlantichealth.org).
“This year’s Most Wired organizations exemplify progress through innovation” says Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. “The hospital field can learn from these outstanding organizations ways that IT can help to improve efficiency.”
As more health care professionals embrace digitalization of medical records, there has been a greater need to protect information electronically. To that end, Atlantic Health System 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.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Health Care’s Most Wired Survey, which is conducted in cooperation with McKesson Corp., AT&T, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, and the American Hospital Association. Health Care’s Most Wired Survey, conducted between Jan. 15 and March 15, asked hospitals and health systems nationwide to answer questions regarding their IT initiatives. Respondents completed 659 surveys, representing 1,713 hospitals, or roughly 30 percent of all U.S. hospitals. The July H&HN cover story detailing results is available at www.hhnmag.com.
For more information about Atlantic Health System, visit www.atlantichealth.org.