Memorial Health One of Nation's "Most Wired" Hospitals

Savannah's Memorial Health was recently recognized as one of the nation's most wired hospitals. While the healthcare industry as a whole still lags behind other industries in adopting new information technology, doctors there says that's changing.

"I think that eventually we may actually catch up and overtake, because information technology is exceedingly useful in medicine," said Dr. Stephen Rogers.

While healthcare ultimately depends on the doctors' human skills, the wealth of vital information doctors rely on has never been easier to access or to share among those who need it. Rogers notes that sending things like X-rays backward and forward between one department and another has greatly enhanced efficiency, meaning the days of viewing X-rays on film could be nearing an end. While images are viewed the old way, no one else can look at them. Those on the new Picture Archiving and Communication System, or PACS, can be viewed at multiple locations.

Steve Stanic, VP, CIO at Memorial, explained, "Basically, our physicians and caregivers have access to all the patient information that's relevant for their stay here. All their images, labs, vitals, clinical documentation."

This saves time and allows physicians to access important information on the go.

"How I practice medicine is gradually changing so that skills that can only be done by a human I learned to do very well," said Dr. Rogers. "Then I can depend on information technology to provide me with the other knowledge and to enhance what I do every day."

As Memorial and other hospitals step up spending on this sort of improvement, the patients benefit in the end. Stanic says it's worth the investment. "If just giving access to clinical information to the caregiver at the point of care saves a life or reduces an error, how can you put a price tag on just that?"

Reported by: Charles Gray, cgray@wtoc.com