Springfield hospital system awarded for using tech to improve health

Mercy Health, a hospital system that includes the Springfield Regional Medical Center and Mercy Memorial Hospital in Urbana, was recently named a 2017 Most Wired Advanced Health System.

For patients in Springfield and Urbana, the designation is a sign that they have access to some of the latest technologies for health care available. Mercy is the only health care system in Ohio and Kentucky to be recognized for the Advanced designation, the first time that specific designation was included.

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The system has received the Most Wired award several times in the past, said Rebecca Sykes, senior vice president and chief information officer for Mercy Health.

“What it means to Springfield and Urbana is they enjoy a level of technology they would not be able to enjoy independent of Mercy,” Sykes said. “We are the largest health system in the state of Ohio, and it allows us a certain level of technology and security that is unparalleled in an independent hospital.”

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About 16 other health systems and nine hospitals were recognized for the advanced designation, according to information from the Hospitals and Health Networks website. The Most Wired survey is conducted annually with the American Hospital Association and Clearwater Compliance, a health-care compliance and cyber risk management firm.

The survey showed increasingly, health organizations are looking at how technology can be used to improve health outcomes instead of simply acquiring new technology.

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“The results show that many hospitals and health systems have shifted their focus from acquisition of technology to integrating tech into strategies to improve population health, capitalize on data analytics, boost patient engagement and introduce new efficiencies,” the survey’s website says.

The focus of the survey changes almost every year, Sykes said. This year, many of the questions included focused on cyber security issues and how well hospitals and health systems protect patient data, for example.

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One example of how Mercy utilizes technology is it uses a single database for electronic health records and other information that is used across all 23 of the system’s hospitals and its physicians.

“Once data is put in there, it’s seen in all of the locations where this is rolled out,” Sykes said. “What that’s allowed us to do is to interface that data with population health tools and we’ve been able to integrate clinical data and claims data so that we can really identify and target patients for outreach from a population health perspective. If we’re taking care of a certain diabetic, we know who they are, we know how to get to them, we know what treatments need to be in place.”

The hospitals in Springfield and Urbana are fairly easy to navigate, Sykes said. But Mercy developed a way-finding app for use in older, more complicated hospitals elsewhere in its system that patients can download to help navigate the facilities. The system also developed a secure system allowing physicians to text each other or with nurses, which helped earn the advanced award.

Mercy also uses its data to develop predictive models, which could help determine which patients are most at risk for developing an infection over time. That will help determine what treatment can be implemented earlier to prevent the infection from occurring in the first place.

An example of the technology being used locally is at Mercy Memorial in Urbana. Physicians throughout the system are encouraged to use a computerized physician order entry program, in which physicians enter their own orders for prescriptions and tests, as opposed to writing orders by hand. That ensures orders are more legible and accurate, she said.

Staff in Urbana have one of the highest percentages of use in the system at more than 95 percent, she said.

Technology is also increasingly used to allow patients to receive treatment at home where they are often more comfortable, Sykes said. For example, in some cases Mercy uses a technology called My Chart bedside, in which patients are given a tablet to take home, allowing them to consult with physicians from home.

Technology is already being used through the system, including Springfield and Urbana, to prevent unnecessary testing, she said, which can save patients and insurers money and time.

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