The NCH Healthcare System has spent millions of dollars on health information technology and is now among the "most wired" hospitals nationwide, according to an industry survey released this week.
The nonprofit NCH with two hospitals in Collier County was named for the first time to the "most wired" hospitals list for 2012, published in the July issue of Hospitals and Health Networks, an industry publication of the American Hospital Association.
Four other Florida hospitals were named. They are Baptist Health South Florida in Coral Gables; Florida Hospital in Orlando; Martin Health System in Stuart; and Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood.
Dr. Allen Weiss, NCH president and chief executive officer, said the hospital system has been diligent over the past decade in integrating information technology into patient care services and operations. He said "tens of millions" have been invested so far.
"There was a philosophy of the leadership team at NCH," he said. "It's a safer environment, you're much less likely to have a medication error and much less likely to have other mistakes happen in the hospital."
All told, 215 hospitals made the list out of 662 hospitals that responded to the survey this year, said Matthew Weinstock, senior editor of the industry publication. Hospitals are evaluated on progress in use of information technology in four areas.
They are infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety and clinical integration.
Key to making the list is functionality in the use of information technology, Weinstock said. For instance, if a hospital cannot recover lost data within 72 hours, they are bumped off the list, he said.
A hospital cannot be included if it doesn't have computerized medication ordering and it would not make the list if it doesn't have clinical support to alert of potential drug interactions for patients.
Weinstock said being named was considered an award for many years but now it has become a benchmark survey to help hospitals know where they stand on information technology.
Every participating hospital, even if it doesn't make the list, receives an assessment report.
"That's where we see the value," he said. "As health care reform rolls out, hospitals will really need to analyze the data of all patient encounters."
That's because quality of care, patient outcomes and efficiency will be tied to reimbursement in Medicare, he said.
Weiss said NCH responded to the survey for the first time two years ago, didn't make the list, and did not try again last year.
NCH started working on information technology in the 1990s and its laboratory was first to be computerized in 1992, Weiss said. That was around the time when NCH launched a long-term relationship with Kansas City-based Cerner for moving into information technology.
He said NCH went big on information technology when it adopted a computerized nurse order entry system in 2001, followed by computers on push carts that nurses wheel into patient rooms for order entry The hospitals started the transition to electronic medical records in 2001, and pharmacy orders are filled with robotic systems and physician enter their orders electronically.
A more recent investment, which was not included for the "most wired" survey was the adoption of "smart room" technology that is in 64 rooms in the patient tower at NCH North Naples Hospital.
The "smart room" technology identifies all caregivers who enter a patient's room on a flat screen television that's on the opposite wall of the patient's bed. Another piece is a flat-screen television behind the patient's head that displays the patient's medical records.