Riverside is ahead of the curve in using information technology to improve patient care

Most Wired logo 2012Riverside Health System was named among the most wired health systems in the Hospitals & Health Networks Magazine 2012 Most Wired Survey
and Benchmarking Study.

The magazine recognizes most-wired hospitals because information technology enables our caregivers to deliver improved patient care and enhance health system efficiency. This is the eighth consecutive year Riverside has made the list.  Riverside is the only health system in Virginia to achieve this distinction eight years running.

 "Riverside utilizes technology to assist in achieving higher quality care," said John Stanley, senior vice president and chief information officer. "I would like to know that the hospital I go to, or the doctor I go to, uses the latest technology when they're caring for me."

Meeting – and beating – federal requirements

Riverside's use of information technology is ahead of the curve in meeting federal health care reform requirements. Riverside Regional Medical Center, Riverside Tappahannock Hospital and Riverside Walter Reed Hospitals were the first in Virginia, and among the first in the nation, to be recognized for meeting Medicare's requirements for "meaningful use" of electronic medical records. Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital was also recognized for meeting the requirements for "meaningful use" late last year. Meaningful use regulations were built into the February 2009 economic stimulus package. Incentives are provided to hospitals and physicians who use electronic medical records to improve patient care. Eventually, health systems will be penalized for not meeting those requirements.

Some examples of meaningful use include using a computer to check whether a medication would interact with a patient's allergies and sending prescriptions electronically to pharmacies.

"Fortunately for Riverside, we have already adopted a lot of that technology, so it's nice to be recognized for making the right investments over the years," Stanley said. "We'll continue to invest in technology as the meaningful use requirements get tougher."

Benefiting patient care

One of the ways Riverside is using information technology to improve patient care is by using medication administration technology. "By scanning a drug and the patient's wrist band, the computer verifies that the right patient is receiving the right amount of medication at the right time, "said Charles O. Frazier MD, Vice President Clinical Innovation.

Riverside electronic medical records also issue alerts when patients' vital signs change, bringing relevant information to the forefront for health providers.

Riverside technology also finds patients who fall through the cracks of the preventive-care system, which can help reduce ever-rising health-care costs. Riverside's system can identify which patients are overdue for a screening or checkup. Then, patients can be called and reminded to schedule an appointment. Patients who don't keep up with their preventive care may end up sicker and in need of care in the hospital or emergency room, and that costs more than preventive care.

"What you don't want to do is to have a disease or a condition escalate, where you end up in the emergency room, when you could've done something to prevent it early on," Dr. Frazier said. "It's better for the patient and provider. Better outcomes."

Riverside's information technology includes a robust patient portal. Patients who join MyHealth eLink can request appointments, receive lab results, contact nurses or physicians and much more.

Riverside also offers an array of in-home monitoring technology, such as glucose monitors that allow providers to keep an eye on patients at home. The health system also offers medication dispensing devices that help patients take the right dosages of the right medications at the right time. Riverside providers are alerted when the medications aren't taken, enabling them to check on the patient or follow up with a family member.

Recent improvements include an individualized care plan that's a part of a patient's medical record at Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital.  Members of a patient's care team can write up an individualized care plan that all members of the care team can access.  The automated system allows the team to see what other team members are doing, making coordinated care easier.

"It's a nice honor to get that recognition," Stanley said of being named "Most Wired" for eight years in a row. "We have amazing professionals that work within the information technology department as well as throughout our health system that really understand and are motivated to deploy technology to benefit the patient. I'm just thrilled to be part of that."


Published: July 10, 2012