Technology is ONLY a tool, but such a powerful tool if you leverage it correctly and strategically in your business.
IBM and it’s partner BlueWare exemplified this recently by helping the West Branch Medical Center improve their patient care with an electronic health management solution that lets them access patient information in real-time.
West Branch Regional Medical Center, a flagship hospital of Northern Michigan Health, has transformed its patient care operations into an electronic based system by digitizing all of its patient care records. As a result, the hospital has saved more than 50 thousands dollars in the first six months and administrative staff inefficiency has been slashed by as much as 40 percent.
As you consider implementing technology in your business, the ONLY way to do it right is to ensure that you consider the ROI (return on investment) for a given technology solution.
The medical center did not only improve patient record access but also stopped the inefficiencies existing within their accounts payable department, as billing was delayed while staff awaited paper-based medical records. Since the implementation of the information management system, the accounts receivable days have dropped from 90 days to 60 days.
The integrated IBM and BlueWare solution, has replaced the hospital’s existing paper-based patient records into an electronic format that enables authorized physicians and nurses to gain real-time access to historical patient data, such as digital access to x-rays and other medical lab results. Now medical personnel can respond more rapidly to patient requirements by having access to the patient’s medical history instantaneously.
In the past, physicians spent too much time locating information on paper-based patient charts, such as the patient’s medical history, medication prescribed to the patient for treatment and the medical test results. The process of manually locating this data delayed patient assistance and care process. The new electronic health medical records solution provides doctors with more real-time access to patient history and is also helping flag potential patient safety problems, such as medication allergies and interactions, before a patient suffers harm or potential death due to delayed access of information on patient history.
Reducing healthcare cost and improving patient care by adopting digital technology systems for handling patient records is outlined as a major priority for President Bush’s 2006 budget and agenda. The administration plans to solicit $125 million in funds for IT-related health projects. Recognizing that healthcare industry has diverse needs based on today’s regulatory environment, IBM is working with several ISVs such as BlueWare so they can capitalize on a wide range of resources to more effectively develop customized solutions that meet the healthcare industry requirements.
Maybe you are not in health care and will not get funds from the government, but it is IMPORTANT that you consider how technology can drive your business goals and create more efficient business processes within your organization
This story highlights another important aspect of technology – who you partner with. Sure IBM is a huge company and you would expect them to have deals like this. But the gem in this story is the IBM partner, BlueWare, a Michigan-based solution provider specializing in electronic health-management solutions.
As you look to find a consultant to implement or even advise on technology solutions make sure you ask that provider if they KNOW your business. Ask if they have done work for clients who are in your same industry.
“Patients undergoing tests and treatment often move among the various facilities we cover within the hospital and the medical records wouldn’t immediately follow,” explains Randy Lewis, Information Systems Director, West Branch Regional Medical Center. “This made it difficult for physicians to access information and as a result the potential existed for treatment to be delayed or tests repeated. Now, with the help of the IBM and BlueWare solution, we have been able to transform the hospital’s operations into an on demand system that allows authorized staff to access all patient data in real-time and enables clinicians to deliver the highest quality of patient care,” said Lewis.
Patient safety has also become a prime directive nationwide and healthcare consumers are seeking facilities where they feel that their information is secure. With the new solution patient safety has improved significantly due to the ability of caregiver’s access to the patient’s history that can be accesses only by authorized users. Consumers also demand efficiency and speed of care particularly in the emergency room and Wellness Connection is now helping address those issues effectively as well. The new solution has enabled the hospital to comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) rules and regulations focused on improved patient safety.