Atlantic General Hospital is among the less than 1 percent of U.S. hospitals to receive the 2017 Most Wired Hospital—Advanced distinction, bestowed by the American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Health Forum. Only two Maryland hospitals received the award, with Atlantic General Hospital being the only one on the Eastern Shore.
The awards are based on the results of the 19th Annual HealthCare’s Most Wired survey and benchmarking study. The survey examines how organizations are using information technology (IT) to improve healthcare delivery in the areas of quality and safety, clinical integration, infrastructure and business management.
The 27 hospitals nationwide who received the Most Wired—Advanced award were found to have exceeded core development in these four focus areas.
“Atlantic General has had the foresight to put some very innovative programs in place to improve quality and patient experience. Health IT has been there to help those programs operate more efficiently to provide the best care possible for our patients.” said Andrew Fowler, vice president of information services and CIO of Atlantic General Hospital. “This award is a reflection of the entire organization, not just IT efforts.”
According to the survey, more than 40 percent of Most Wired hospitals provide real-time care management services to patients at home for diabetes and congestive heart failure.
At Atlantic General, nurses in the Patient Centered Medical Home program reach out to patients identified as being at risk for hospital admission due to a variety of chronic conditions, to make sure they’re taking any prescribed medication properly and have scheduled — and plan to keep — the necessary follow up appointments with their doctors. The risk stratification is based upon key pieces of data within the patients’ electronic health records.
Since the survey was completed, the organization has taken the program a step further, providing remote monitoring and supportive care services to high-risk patients discharged from the hospital. For patients who qualify, a tablet computer, a connecting blood pressure cuff, a pulse oximeter to measure oxygen levels in the blood, a blood glucose monitor and a scale to measure body weight are installed in the home.
Through daily monitoring and intervention from the care coordinators as needed, the program aims to provide a bridge from discharge to follow-up visits with the doctor to maintain health status and prevent readmission.
According to the survey, Most Wired hospitals are using telemedicine, or telehealth, to fill gaps in care, provide services 24/7, or expand access to medical specialists.
In addition to telehealth partnerships with the University of Maryland, Kennedy Krieger Institute, and Sheppard Pratt to provide 24/7 monitoring of critical-care patients, outpatient developmental health services to pediatric patients and mental health services respectively, Atlantic General has partnered with Berlin Nursing & Rehabilitation Center to provide remote consultation services for patients discharged to the center for rehabilitation services. The program has reduced readmissions by 50 percent over a nine-month period.
Most recently, Atlantic General has entered into a telehealth partnership with University of Maryland Medical Center and their Greenebaum Cancer Center to provide patients and the oncologists at the Regional Cancer Care Center access to University of Maryland cancer specialists for consultations and care plans for more difficult cancer diagnoses.
The first to benefit from this telehealth partnership have been patients with lung nodules or suspected lung cancer who are connecting with thoracic surgeons at University of Maryland for pre- and post-operative consultations.
Other programs in place during the time of survey included biometric identification of patients during the registration process to improve patient safety and patient experience, secure texting for medical staff and clinicians for better communication, and sharing of secure electronic medical records through the Maryland and Delaware health information exchanges to facilitate regional care coordination of shared patient populations.
“The Most Wired hospitals are using every available technology option to create more ways to reach their patients in order to provide access to care,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack. “They are transforming care delivery, investing in new delivery models in order to improve quality, provide access and control costs.”
Detailed results of the HealthCare’s Most Wired survey and study can be found in the July issue of Health & Hospitals Networks. For a full list of winners, visit www.hhnmag.com.