Most Wired Hospitals Use Technology for a Better Patient Experience
Berlin, Md. – Atlantic General Hospital is among just six percent of hospitals nationwide to receive the 2016 Most Wired Hospital distinction, bestowed by the American Hospital Association's (AHA) Health Forum.
The awards are based on the results of the annual HealthCare's Most Wired® survey and benchmarking study. The survey examines how organizations are using information technology (IT) to improve healthcare delivery in the areas of quality and safety, clinical integration, infrastructure and business management.
"The Most Wired award is a reflection of the organization as a whole, not IT specifically," said Andrew Fowler, vice president of information services and CIO of Atlantic General Hospital. "Atlantic General has had the foresight to put some very innovative programs in place. Health IT has been there to help those programs operate more efficiently to provide the best care possible for our patients."
A Few of AGH's Initiatives
According to the survey, Most Wired hospitals are using telemedicine, or telehealth, to fill gaps in care, provide services 24-7, or expand access to medical specialists.
This year's results show psychiatric examinations and psychotherapy are among the top three telehealth services offered by hospitals. On the heels of the launch of Maryland eCare to provide around-the-clock remote monitoring of ICU patients, Atlantic General expanded much needed behavioral health care services in 2009 through a telemedicine partnership with therapists at Sheppard Pratt, a psychiatric hospital in Towson, Md.
Another such partnership, this time with Baltimore-based Kennedy Krieger Institute, was forged in 2014 to provide diagnosis and treatment for developmental disabilities in children, including autism spectrum disorder.
Particularly in the case of developmental health, IT helped bring critical services that were otherwise inaccessible for many patients – and their families – right to their community. Much of this was achieved through the expansion of Maryland Broadband internet services on the Eastern Shore.
Building Patient Engagement
In redefining the way that they provide care in their communities, Most Wired hospitals are using technology to build patient engagement with the individual's lifestyle in mind, which includes electronic access to their care team.
More than 60 percent of Most Wired hospitals use social media to provide support groups. Since April of 2015, patients of both the medical and surgical weight loss programs at Atlantic General Bariatric Center have been able to take advantage of the support of fellow patients and members of their care team in a very active closed Facebook group, where individuals share their struggles and successes, recipes and exercise tips, and other helpful information.
Improving Population Health
Most Wired hospitals are also using population health management tools and partnering with other health care providers to share clinical information so they can provide additional outreach to key patient groups, such as those with diabetes. More than half of these hospitals have connected their electronic health record data to population health tools to accomplish this type of interaction.
At Atlantic General, nurses in the Patient Centered Medical Home program reach out to recently discharged patients identified as being at risk for readmission, to make sure they're taking any prescribed medication properly and have scheduled – and plan to keep – the necessary follow up appointments with their doctors. This risk stratification is based upon key pieces of data within the patients' electronic health records.
Access to Electronic Health Records
In 2013, Atlantic General built their Patient Electronic Record Keeping Service (PERKS), following with the launch of the PERKS Patient Portal in May of 2014. The hospital was ahead of the curve. Less than 16 percent of hospitals nationwide were able to meet the health IT requirements of Meaningful Use in the first year, which included standards related to the secure collection, sharing and use of electronic health information in patient care, within the original timeframes set forth by the federal government. Atlantic General Hospital was one of them.
The hospital is now in the process of expanding the capabilities of the PERKS patient portal to make it more convenient and useful for patients, including scheduling of appointments in real time and sharing of relevant health education.
"Hospitals are breaking out of their traditional four walls and providing care where and when patients need it," said Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA. "These Most Wired hospitals exemplify this transformation by harnessing technology, engaging patients and offering services remotely. And, removing policy and other barriers to telehealth will allow even faster adoption of these amazing technologies."
Detailed results of the HealthCare's Most Wired® survey and study can be found in the July issue of Health & Hospitals Networks. For a full list of winners, visit