U.S. News and World Report recently named its 156 "most connected" U.S. hospitals, singled out for their combination of high quality and early adoption of information technology. But what does "most connected" really mean for hospitalists working on the wards?
"I've been in hospital medicine for a few years, and I can still remember the old days of going down to the medical records room and pulling a chart off the shelf," says hospitalist Kristian Feterik, MD, clinical assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) in Pittsburgh, which is on the U.S. News list. "The transition from paper to electronic medical records has just been tremendous. We're almost 100% paperless here."
Going paperless means hospitalists and other clinicians can access medical records anywhere in the hospital or at home using multiple interfaces, including their own tablet, Dr. Feterik says. "We're now piloting an application for smartphones that would notify us of pending tests. Plus, the applications support access to radiology studies, for example, without having to re-enter patient identification numbers once you're in the patient's record."
UPMC clinicians have access to a number of applications, some still in beta testing.
But technology also has its downside. "We need to be mindful about how we write our orders, because it's so easy to order things electronically," Dr. Feterik adds. "I stress to the residents: You need to take a moment and think, 'Why are you ordering this test?'"