In recent years Union Hospital has been moving from a paper system to an electronic system of ordering, reporting, and recording patient care. As the result of its efforts Union Hospital has been recognized as one of the nationals ?Most Wired ? Small and Rural Hospitals? by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine.
?We?re actually out ahead of most hospitals in the U.S., and among the 25 most wired of all small or rural hospitals in the nation in 2010,? according to Dave Baumgardner, director of Information Systems at Union Hospital. ?We?ve made a lot of progress moving Union Hospital?s technology into the 21st century and this national recognition confirms our progress.?
Baumgardner says the goal of moving away from paper and toward a fully electronic system is to improve clinical care, patient safety, and overall quality of the patient?s experience. ?Becoming a ?wired? hospital is an evolutionary process that transitions from paper and takes advantage of the speed and accuracy of electronic communications,? Baumgardner said.
Some of the ?wired? programs UH has already started or has in the development stages includes:
w Physicians ordering patient tests from a computer in the hospital or their office.
w Test results sent directly into the patient?s electronic medical record in the physician office.
w Administration of patient medications.
w Electronic transcription of physician dictation using speech recognition.
w Patient medical records stored on optical disks rather than in thick paper files.
Baumgardner credits the hard work of employees in all hospital departments, the staff of the Information Systems Department, and the UH physicians who are working together to lead the complex transition from paper to electronic systems.
While progress to date has moved Union Hospital into the status of among the nation?s ?Most Wired ? Small and Rural? hospitals, some of the most dramatic changes are yet to come.
?Within the next several years we?ll have a portal on our hospital website where patients can schedule their hospital appointments, obtain their test reports, access their medical records, and pay their bills,? Baumgardner said. ?Doctors will be ordering patient tests and receiving their reports directly to their offices, and through a secure Regional Health Information Exchange the patient?s medical records will be accessible to other hospitals where they are being treated.?
Hospitals & Health Networks magazine is published by the American Hospital Association. The Most Wired program annually surveys the status of hospitals and names its ?Most Wired? award winners that lead their peers in four areas: Business and Administrative Management, Clinical Quality and Safety, Care Continuum, and Infrastructure.