In addition to Brookwood Baptist Health, a number of other Birmingham-area hospitals made the Hospitals & Health Networks Most Wired List including: St. Vincent's Birmingham; St. Vincent's East; St. Vincent's Blount; St. Vincent's St. Clair; and UAB Health System.
Brookwood Baptist Health's (BBH) use of technology has earned it recognition as one of the "Most Wired" hospitals in the U.S. according to Hospitals & Health Network's Most Wired® survey.
Hospitals around the country received the survey which evaluated how they use information systems for business profit as well as for clinical quality along with the clinical integration of all systems in use. BBHS is one of the 34 percent of hospitals that received the recognition.
"Everyone we touch is impacted by our IT systems," says Chris Davis, MD, chief information officer for BBH.
The survey examines four areas - infrastructure; business management; quality and safety; and clinical integration - to determine how organizations are leveraging IT to improve performance.
Chris Davis, MD
Infrastructure encompasses how the hospital system provides user access to all the IT systems it manages. "They looked at how we verify credentials for our networks and the level of redundancy in those networks," Davis says. "They want to make sure there are reliable connections at all times and that we have disaster recovery processes in place."
The Business Management category accesses the breadth of the electronic system in the revenue cycle. "They look at the systems we use to do our internal data intelligence and how we monitor our own businesses to understand how we are doing financially," Davis says. "They also evaluate the predictive modeling we use when we make adjustments to certain aspects of business."
The Quality and Safety component of the survey looks at the use of electronic systems related to patient care. BBH has several programs in this area. "We use cardiac monitors to record vital signs and interface with EHRs, which lessens the chance of manual errors," Davis says. "This technology is also used in the operating rooms for monitoring anesthesia administration, heart rate and blood pressure. In the past, all of those records were handwritten in each chart. Now the information is sent digitally to the operating rooms, which reduces transcription errors."
The EHR also electronically orders medications and requisitions lab and radiology orders. And the system uses bar codes to administer medication. "The bar code system ensures we give the correct medication to the correct patient at the correct time," Davis says. "We also make sure that we are electronically recording patient information in discreet ways, including their medical history, vital signs, lab results and access to digital radiology images."
Another electronic innovation integrated with the EHR is the smart pump, which infuses medications into a patient. "When a drug is ordered to be administered intravenously, the pump is programmed automatically with the correct drug and dosage, reducing the risk for error," Davis says. The pump also includes "guard rails" which prevent the pump from being programmed outside the boundaries of the medication's normal dosage. "This is an example of the use of sophisticated IT systems that can help reduce medical errors. It is also a good illustration of several systems working together."
Clinical integration provides a means to coordinate patient care across settings. "We provide a patient portal where patients can access lab results, clinical history, medications, and allergies, among other information. They can share this information with other providers if they wish. We also provide patient education specific to the medical problem they are being treated for," Davis says. "Following a visit, the portal provides the patient a copy of an after-visit summary that includes a synopsis of the diagnosis, lab results, and instructions from the physician. It also provides online access to targeted education related to the diagnosis. In addition, the patient can request medication refills and talk to the physician online through this portal."
BBH also offers online services for selecting a physician and for making appointments through an application called ZocDoc. "ZocDoc helps patients as well as our clinical staffs. Staff members spend less time on the phone scheduling and rescheduling appointments. The only calls they have to make are to confirm appointments," Davis says.
Through another online app called InQuicker, patients who need to be seen in the Emergency Department for non-critical issues can also check in online and hold their place in line while they wait from home.
Davis wants to continue advancing BBH's use of technology. "Technology is constantly improving the efficiency of the care we deliver to our community and creates a new dynamic in our patient interactions," he says.