- This recognition is an indicator of quality.
For the 10th consecutive year, MeritCare Health System has been named one of the "100 Most Wired" hospitals and health systems by Hospital & Health Networks, the journal of the American Hospital Association. MeritCare is distinguished as one of only six nationwide to achieve consecutive recognition since the list's inception in 1998.
"We have been proud to be recognized as an industry leader for the past 10 years. MeritCare is on the cusp of the information age explosion in the health care arena and is excited to be part of this change," said Craig Hewitt, senior vice president/chief information officer. "Although this award recognizes our outstanding use of information technology, it is also an organizational success to be celebrated by all our employees. They use the technology to provide our patients with safe and quality care."
The list is based on the magazine's Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study which measure the use of information technology for safety and quality, customer service, business processes, workforce, and public health and safety. More than 550 health care systems representing 1,327 hospitals throughout the United States responded to the survey. Organizations with the highest survey scores were named to the 100 Most Wired list.
The 100 Most Wired Hospitals is an indicator of quality. Hospitals on the list, including MeritCare, use information technology to reduce errors, improve care and streamline business. Data shows these hospitals show better outcomes in four key areas: mortality rates, patient safety measures, core measurements and average length of stay.
At MeritCare, being named Most Wired is demonstrated in a number of ways, including:
- MAK- MeritCare recently implemented MAK, a medication administration checking system, at both Fargo hospital locations. Using bar code scanning technology, the system ensures each patient receives the right medication at the right dose, administered the correct way (oral, topical, nasal, etc.) at the right time. It serves as a double check for the nurse before he/she administers the medication to the patient.
- Digital medical imaging- MeritCare has become a digital organization. Rather than relying on hard-copy imaging films (X-rays, CT scans, MRIs), staff are able to view medical images including radiology and cardiology online. For example, a doctor in Jamestown, N.D., or Bemidji, Minn., can consult with a specialist in Fargo while they both securely look at the same patient images.
- Electronic patient record (EPR)- MeritCare currently has one of the most mature EPR systems in the nation. The vast majority of MeritCare patient medical records are available online which include a patient's problems, medications, allergies, visit notes, scanned documents, and results from many other systems and departments. This means records for a patient can be accessed quickly and from any MeritCare location (no waiting to locate the paper medical chart).
- eHealth- MeritCare has embarked on the process of offering an Internet store front for medical services. This pilot project has included a select group of migraine patients at MeritCare Neuroscience Center as well as patients at MeritCare Reproductive Medicine to use secure messages between the patient and clinicians. This service will expand in the future to include appointment reminders, appointment requests, office visit questionnaires and many more features.
- Meritcare.com- The Web site offers an extensive library of health information with over 6,500 topics, a quality guide to help patients make better health decisions, hospital and clinic bill payment, daily health news feed, a variety of e-newsletters and the ability to view wait times for MeritCare's walk-in clinics in Fargo.
- Wireless computer access for patients- Both Fargo hospitals as well as the Broadway Health Center and Broadway and SouthPointe clinics' offer wireless Internet access for patients and their families with planned expansion to other locations.
- Videoconference network- An expansive videoconference network is in place in over 26 MeritCare locations throughout the region and will be expanded in the coming year. The technology allows patient video consults and easy connection to health systems across the country for sharing knowledge and advancing expertise. It also allows the opportunity to serve remote or underserved areas.
For more information about this award, visit hhnmag.com. For more information about MeritCare, visit meritcare.com.