Our County Hospital Recognized for Electronic Records Leadership
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
November 6, 2008

Two things that government often fails to do is to measure results and celebrate little victories. It is because of this that government is oftentimes thought to do little good. Then when something bad happens the entity is thought to be clumsy or simply incompetent. This information below is taken from a recent UHS news release.

The University Health System's success in going "digital" with the roll-out and integration of key technologies, like an electronic medical record, computerized physician orders and results, as well as a Picture Archiving & Communication digital imaging system, has resulted in Bexar County's public hospital district being recognized as this year's recipient of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives' (CHIME) and the American Hospital Association's (AHA) annual Transformational Leadership Award.

This award is given to the one healthcare organization in the nation determined to have successfully undergone a large scale transformation. According to CHIME, the purpose is to honor the organization that has "excelled in developing and deploying transformational information technology that improves the delivery of care and streamlines administrative services."

Change is difficult for nearly every organization but, as stated in University Health System's nomination, this initiative re-defined the word challenging: "How do you turn a large county-owned hospital district with an aging infrastructure, a large base of nursing and physician leaders with limited computer skills, and an organizational track record of being somewhat reluctant (if not downright resistant) to change, into an innovative leader in the use of advanced computer technologies to improve patient care, safety and coordination? In the case of University Health System, the successful recipe included a chief information officer with vision, tenacity and excellent communication skills, reporting to a president/CEO who was willing to make a significant organizational investment of time, effort and money for payoffs that would be years in the making, and who was willing to make tough decisions and stick to them, even under pressure."

As a result of University Health System's transformational change to go "paperless," nearly 100 percent of patient orders are now being processed electronically. That adds up to about 5.5 million patient care orders and 11 million other electronic documents this year alone.

University Health System continues to expand usage and find new ways to improve patient care. For example, abnormal lab values from patients waiting to be seen by providers in the Emergency Room are now sent by pager to ER staff. Before the new electronic medical record implementation, patients sometimes waited long periods of time to be seen despite having abnormal lab values. Now, abnormal results are acted upon immediately. University Health System averages about 340 pager alerts per month for different types of abnormal lab values.

I am very proud of the leadership this advancement represents for all our community.

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