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National Health Information Technology Czar Views UPMCs Electronic Medical Records Initiatives

UPMCs $500 Million Initiative In The Forefront of National Electronic Records Efforts

PITTSBURGH, September 23, 2004 Today, David J. Brailer, M.D., Ph.D., the newly named National Health Information Technology Coordinator at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), toured the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and received a first-hand overview of UPMCs cutting-edge initiatives in developing totally electronic patient health records and how UPMC has already reached or exceeded goals set forth by HHS.

In May 2004, Dr. Brailer was appointed the first National Health Information Technology Coordinator by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. His duties as national coordinator are to execute the actions ordered by President Bush, who has called for widespread deployment of health information technology within 10 years to realize substantial improvements in safety and efficiency. Dr. Brailer is recognized as a leader in the strategy and financing of quality and efficiency in health care, with a particular emphasis on health information technology and health systems management.

An early adopter and industry leader in health information technology, UPMC has already operationalized many of the goals we set out to achieve in the strategic framework that was released earlier this year, said Dr. Brailer. By electronically linking thousands of care providers across Western Pennsylvania who all share one patient record among hospitals, physicians offices and rehabilitation centers, UPMC is a current living example of the positive business case for electronic health record (EHR) adoption.

Site Visit Demonstrations

During Dr. Brailers visit, various UPMC physician users and information technology leaders provided an overview of the UPMC electronic medical records initiatives. He also toured the UPMC Presbyterian emergency department for a first-hand view of how information technology has helped physicians and nurses provide better care to patients. In addition, he received a demonstration of the physician Internet portal and its importance in helping to respond to bioterrorism.

Dr. Brailer also delivered a keynote address, Connecting Doctors and Patients: A Decade Forecast Regarding the Electronic Health Record, to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine faculty and residents and staff.

Industry Recognition

On Monday, Sept. 20, UPMC was ranked number one in the United States in the health care industry, and number five among all industries, in the use of information technology by InformationWeek 500, a prestigious annual listing of the most innovative users of information technology.

UPMC is one of the few medical centers listed for more than six straight years on the American Hospitals Association The Most 100 Wired hospitals annual list. It also was ranked by Modern Healthcare magazines Hospital Systems Survey as the 4th largest secular not-for-profit healthcare system in the country. UPMC also has consistently appeared on Solucients Top 100 Hospitals List and ranks in the top specialty percentiles of U.S. News & World Reports Best Hospitals.

Interconnecting Clinicians the eRecord Initiative

UPMC has committed approximately $500 million to develop and deploy information technology initiatives. The UPMC electronic medical records initiative, called eRecord, encompasses a broad range of electronic clinical applications that give doctors, nurses and other caregivers the ability to instantly access important patient information. The goal of the initiative is to improve the quality of patient care, reduce medical errors and duplication of services and provide more cost-effective care.

For example, by applying EHR technology solutions, UPMC has decreased pharmacy costs at its largest hospital by $1.5 million this year in the face of a 12 percent increase in pharmaceutical pricing while also increasing the number of patients. It also has decreased the need to repeat laboratory, radiology or other invasive and expensive tests because the data and x-rays are easily shared by authorized users.

Bankers need electronic spreadsheets to balance their books, accountants use electronic forms to assist with tax preparation, doctors and nurses are finally being enabled to do their jobs more accurately and efficiently with the use of electronic health records, said Dan Martich, M.D., vice president of eRecord at UPMC and co-director, cardiothoracic intensive care unit and associate professor of critical care medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In the not-too-distant future, the national electronic health record coupled with the patients personal electronic health record will be as convenient for Americans to use as Visa or MasterCards.

At UPMC more than 3,900 physicians, nurses and other caregivers regularly use the system. The electronic health record encompasses more than a dozen different computer applications integrated for easy access by authorized users.

Some of the features of the system include: prescription ordering of medications to improve patient safety; an emergency department patient tracking and triage system which provides physicians with access to recorded patient history and helps to reduce the average registration time; a physician portal which offers communication tools and links to facilitate communication among caregivers across the continuum of patient care both within and without UPMC; and patient barcode technology to address the five "Rights" of medication administration and verification to assure the Right Patient, Right Medication, Right Dose, Right Route and Right Time, among others.

Enhancing Personalized Care

UPMC also has successfully implemented a personal health record (PHR) for patients to directly contact their physicians via e-mail, schedule appointments online and request refills via the Internet.

Enhancing personalized care for patients and the use of personalized health records is a key goal in the HHS strategic framework, said Gary Fischer, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and medical director of ambulatory services for the University of Pittsburgh Physicians Practice. During the past year, we have tested a PHR that connects to the electronic health record that our physicians use. Using the secure Internet Web site, participating patients can view their test results, request prescription refills, schedule appointments and request medical advice for non-urgent problems. The system also can alert patients when preventative measures like mammograms are due.

UPMC Health Plan also will pilot a PHR and other wellness solutions using technology to improve health and decrease the cost of care among its own employees.

About the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

UPMC, with 39,000 employees is the largest integrated health care delivery system in Pennsylvania and one of the leading nonprofit medical centers in the country. The University of Pittsburgh and affiliated programs attract more than $375 million annually in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding, ranking the academic medical center 7th in the nation in 2003.

UPMC is the largest employer in western Pennsylvania. More than 4,000 physicians have privileges at UPMC hospitals including about 1,950 employed physicians. UPMC spans the full spectrum of health care delivery with its network of 20 tertiary, specialty and community hospitals and 400 outpatient sites and doctors offices. UPMC operates the largest trauma center in Pennsylvania with more than 409,000 emergency department visits.

With more than 4,000 licensed beds, UPMC has 174,000 admissions per year and 3 million outpatient visits. It is the largest provider of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing options in the region with 14 freestanding retirement and long-term care facilities.

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