Crozer-Keystone Health System Continues Clinical Transformation, Recognized for 10th Consecutive Year as ‘Most Wired’ Health System
Crozer-Keystone Health System (CKHS) was recently recognized for the tenth consecutive year in a national industry survey that measures the level of information technology (IT) integration in U.S. hospitals and health systems.
The annual “Most Wired” survey is sponsored by Hospitals and Health Networks (HHN), the flagship publication of the American Hospital Association. CKHS is one of 21 hospitals or health systems in Pennsylvania to be designated “Most Wired” in 2013, and has received the award overall, 13 out of the last 15 years. CKHS is one of only three Pennsylvania health systems to receive this designation for 10 years consecutively.
An IT Leader
For the past 15 years, the Most Wired survey has served as a benchmark on how hospitals are stacking up on a variety of IT measures aimed at providing better, safer, more efficient patient care. As the Most Wired requirements have increased over the years, Crozer-Keystone has consistently met those challenges, Suzanna Hoppszallern, a spokesperson for the Most Wired team, said of Crozer-Keystone’s consistent standing on the list. In order to make the “Most Wired” list, a hospital needs to meet the survey requirements in four specific areas: infrastructure; business and administrative management; clinical quality and safety; and clinical integration.
Given the dynamic nature of healthcare and the ongoing changes taking place among many organizations today, it is difficult to make generalizations about health systems based solely on their long-term Most Wired standing, Hoppszaller says. At the same time, there is something to be said for organizations like Crozer-Keystone that are recognized year in and year out, she notes.
When a hospital reaches the level of longevity that Crozer-Keystone has achieved in the survey, it is not just meeting the core requirements but demonstrating advanced capabilities in technology integration, Hoppszallern says. These are the IT leaders, Hoppszallern notes. They are looking ahead to where healthcare is going and what kinds of investments will be made in the future.
A common misnomer, Hoppszaller says, is that people are looking at just equipment, but that is not the case. It’s about people and processes and the use of technology, she says.
Crozer-Keystone Then and Now
During the decade in which Crozer-Keystone has consistently earned “Most Wired” honors, the health system has truly undergone a technological and clinical transformation. Some innovations – like having a computer in every patient room where providers can share and reference pertinent health information with patients and their family members – are highly visible. Others, like converting paper records to electronic health records (EHRs) are less obvious upfront, but they offer huge advantages for patients and the physicians who care for them.
Now, instead of pouring through rooms full of paper records for a radiology film or a lab test result, doctors can access this information instantaneously through their computers regardless of their location. Patients who are seeing a new physician or who need care while they are away from home can now access personal health information anytime, anyplace.
Closely tied to EHRs is the ability of health systems like Crozer-Keystone to create new and better ways for patients to participate in their personal health. Crozer-Keystone is out ahead of many health systems in implementing a virtual patient portal, where patients can securely access their health information and communicate with their CKHS physicians.
Karen Scoles, M.D.
Karen Scoles, M.D., Crozer-Keystone Health Network primary care physician and Medical Director of Information Systems, says that she is receiving enthusiastic feedback from patients who are using the CKHS MyCKHealth.Org patient portal and liking it. Through the portal, she notes that patients are able to communicate with her on things like getting test results, making an appointment, or requesting a medication refill.
When she replies back, patients receive a message that they have a new secure message from their doctor. Patients must use a username and password to log on, and all communications are completely safe and secure.
Hoppszallern, of Most Wired, notes that cyber-security is among the areas evaluated in the Most Wired survey, and it is sometimes one of the sticking points for hospitals that do not achieve Most Wired status. Another stumbling block for some hospitals, which must be satisfactorily addressed in order for a health system to be named Most Wired, is having a reliable data recovery and restoration system. In the event of an emergency, such as the tornadoes that occurred earlier this year in the Midwest, it’s important for health systems to be able to keep clinical data available for patient care, she says.
Beyond offering improvements in efficiency and patient engagement, technology is also enhancing patient safety at Crozer-Keystone. For example, technologies such as medication administration checking at the bedside, also known as MAK, helps to support accuracy and promote safe patient care by providing a way for nurses to verify medication before administering it to hospital patients.
Barcodes are at the heart of the MAK system. All medications used within the health system now have a barcode. Patients have their own barcode on their identification armbands. Caregivers have their own barcode. Nurse station devices and mobile carts on the unit help to accommodate the barcode processing and scanning. This ensures that patients receive the right medicine, at the right dose, at the right time and through the right route (oral, topical, nasal, etc.).
Also, having computers in patient rooms enables nurses to stay longer at the bedside rather than going to a computer located outside the room, notes Gail Turley, administrative director for Clinical Informatics at Crozer-Keystone. “They’ll be entering data into the chart through the bedside computer and thus increase patient contact time,” she says of CKHS nurses.
Along with supporting safer care in the hospital setting, technology is enhancing care in other ways. For example, in the outpatient setting, new EHR modules called “proactive care forms” remind physicians when patients are due for certain health services, such as screenings. In addition, electronic prescribing or e-prescribing sends prescriptions directly to a patient’s pharmacy directly from the physicians desktop. A patient can then pick up their prescription without worrying about the paper script and transcription errors are eliminated. These are a valuables tool to help doctors better manage care for their patients, says Scoles.
Starting this October, Scoles notes that Crozer-Keystone will begin implementing another major IT initiative known as inpatient “computerized provider order entry,” or CPOE, within its hospitals, starting with Taylor Hospital in Ridley Park. This technology will then be implemented in the other four CKHS hospitals, including Crozer-Cheste rMedical Center in Upland, Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, Springfield Hospital in Springfield, and Community Hospital in Chester.
Computerized order entry entails using a computer network to communicate patient care instructions, rather than relying on verbal or handwritten instructions. Among the advantages are greater accuracy, fewer delays in care, better outcomes, and an overall better experience for patients, who will enjoy a more seamless delivery of care, Scoles says.
A 10-year Milestone
Clearly, the many IT innovations that have made Crozer-Keystone an IT leader did not happen overnight. Rather, they are the result of a strategic long-term plan focused on providing the best patient care possible, and regularly providing physicians and other providers with the tools to make this happen.
“Within Crozer-Keystone, this has been thoughtfully and cost-effectively accomplished not by jumping at every new idea out there, but by keeping a steady focus on the end goal, and leveraging the systems and technology the health system already has in order enhance the delivery of care. This has been accomplished by high performing and dedicated professionals who have come together to make this happen. We are very proud of what our folks have been able to achieve. The teamwork has been tremendous.” says Don Reed, vice president of Information Services and Chief Information Officer for Crozer-Keystone.
While each of the IT changes over the past 10 years has provided inherent value, the cumulative impact of Crozer-Keystone’s achievements as a Most Wired health system are more apparent today than ever.
“We are cost effectively aligning people, processes and technology in order to provider higher quality and safer care for our patients,” says Reed. “By deeply understanding how health care is delivered and how information technology can support the most efficient and safe patient care processes, our teams of professionals, Information Services, clinicians, and experts have been developing and implementing systems that are transforming care at Crozer-Keystone,” Reed says.
Technological innovations today are no longer just ideas waiting to be realized. “They’re right out there now at the point of care,” Scoles says.