Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Named 2005 Most Wired Hospital 2nd Year in a Row

July 19, 2005

Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center Named 2005 Most Wired Hospital 2nd Year in a Row

New survey demonstrates that technology can play an important role in quality of health care.

HOUSTON - The Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC) was named one of the nation’s "Most Improved" for the second year in a row, according to the results of the 2005 Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study recently released.

Survey results found that the hospitals and health systems selected are making significant progress automating four core components of an electronic medical record (EMR): current medical records, medical history, patient demographics, and nurses’ notes. The survey measures the nation’s hospitals on their use of Internet technologies for quality, customer service, public health and safety, business processes, and workforce issues.

Just over four years ago, the Department of Veterans Affairs introduced the Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA) process. Administering medications, a significant component of delivering quality care, is a complex process, and previously, primarily paper-based. A breakdown at any step along the way could compromise patient safety. The BCMA process consists of using a scanner, very similar to the device in supermarkets, to scan a patient’s hospital identification (ID) band, and then scan the medications the patient is supposed to receive. This allows a nurse or other health care provider to make sure that a veteran is receiving the correct medication in the correct dose at the correct time.

In addition last year, the MEDVAMC entered the remarkable world of the Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) and now has a filmless radiology department. PACS is just one part of the facility’s Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS).

As more and more doctors and hospitals, like Houston’s Methodist Hospital System and St. Luke’s Episcopal Health System, are converting paper medical records to electronic versions, CPRS, the computer system in place at the MEDVAMC since 1999, demonstrates the VA is ahead of the game with its unmatched patient care technology. CPRS has allowed the MEDVAMC to dramatically progress in its management and utilization of patient information. The patient directly benefits from the sharper accuracy, consistency, and speed that the system has brought about.

"The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center offers our veterans an innovative medical information and image management system. Our health care providers have access to the exact information they need, when, and where they need it. Once again, the MEDVAMC is ahead of the game with our unmatched patient care technology," said Edgar L. Tucker, MEDVAMC director.

The nation's 100 Most Wired hospitals and health systems - those that have invested significantly in health information technology - have lower mortality rates than other hospitals, according to results of a new analysis released in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. While the new survey does not establish a "cause and effect" relationship between information technology use and improved outcomes, it demonstrates that technology can play an important role in quality.

Since 1999, Hospitals & Health Networks has surveyed the nation's hospitals on their use of information technology to accomplish key goals, including safety and quality objectives. Based on a detailed scoring process, the magazine annually names the 100 Most Wired Hospitals and Health Systems. This year 502 surveys were submitted, representing 1,225 hospitals.

"There are three key differences in how hospitals apply and use information technology to improve care," said Alden Solovy, executive editor of Hospitals & Health Networks, the journal of the American Hospital Association (AHA). "The Most Wired use a wider array of IT tools to address quality and safety, they have a significantly larger percentage of physicians who enter orders themselves and they conduct a larger percentage of clinical activities via information technology." The entire report is available at www.hhnmag.com .

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