U Hospitals & Clinics Named Again Among Nation's Most Wired Health Systems

U Hospitals & Clinics Named Again Among Nation's Most Wired Health Systems

Jul 25, 2004 6:00 PM

Services such as the University of Utah's telemedicine program, datawarehousing, medical and clinical informatics, and expanding wireless capabilities has earned University Hospitals & Clinics a position among the nation's 100 Most Wired health-care systems for the fifth year.

Hospitals & Health Networks, a journal of the American Hospital Association, which published the list in its July issue, recognized U Hospital for using Internet technologies that improve health-care quality, customer service, public health and safety, business processes, and workforce issues.

The honor demonstrates a commitment to improve patient care along the Wasatch Front and in the state's rural communities, according to Richard A. Fullmer, U Hospital executive director. "Technologies help physicians and patients at University Hospital access the latest resources and services available for the best care possible," Fullmer said. "Now, rural areas can have similar support by connecting to our specialists and capabilities."

The University supports interactive video and data transmission sites for the Utah Telehealth Network, with 21 locations from St. George to Logan and Monument Valley to Vernal, said Pierre S. Pincetl, M.D., U Hospital chief information officer and assistant vice president for health sciences information technology services.

Innovative computer systems help physicians select the most effective drugs and treatments from numerous possible options, according to Jennifer Leiser, M.D., medical director for the U's Sugar House Health Center. Family physicians at the Sugar House clinic carry hand-held devices and use computer terminals in the patient room to access databases and treatment protocol. Online patient information can be printed immediately. "We can't carry everything in our head anymore, but we can carry it in our pockets," said Leiser assistant professor of family and preventive medicine in the School of Medicine.

Also, the U's computerized medical records system allows physicians in the community clinics or in the hospital to securely access a patient's specialty records from any consultant in the University system. This avoids delays in treatment that could occur while waiting for paper records to arrive.

Wireless laptops also allow rounding clinicians to access patient-specific data in real-time, which facilitates rapid and accurate decision making, according to Edward J. Kimball, M.D., assistant professor of surgery at the School of Medicine.

An attending physician in U Hospital's Surgical Intensive Care Unit, Kimball said his wireless laptop is the "most important tool used while rounding," because it gives minute-by-minute patient information, access to infectious disease information, lab results, and radiology reports. "Access to this information immediately is much better than collecting hand-written notes while going bed to bed-especially on an intensive care unit where things can change quickly," he said.

The University provides medical and clinical informatics programs to educate and support medical professionals. The U supports a secure "warehouse" of clinical health and research information with more than 300 million data records-one of the most comprehensive resources in the academic health-care industry.

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