Community Health touts integrated computer system

February 23, 2009

Call it Expedia for hospital systems.

Community Health Network has spent three years developing a computer interface that allows doctors and nurses to view all information and records on a patient in one viewing program. Community calls it a virtual single patient record.

It works in the same way Expedia pulls together plane ticket information from numerous airlines.

That means patient records from Community's five hospitals, its outpatient centers, its radiology departments and even network-affiliate physicians can be accessible at the same moment from any computer that can access the program.

Community thinks its program can save it more than $8 million annually and improve patient care by cutting down on errors, hospital-acquired infections and duplicative work.

Those are also the goals of the Indiana Health Information Exchange and other organizations that facilitate sharing records among hospitals. But Dr. Harry Laws, Community's chief medical information officer, said there's plenty of room for improvement within hospital systems.

Laws said Community is in negotiations with the Indiana Health Information Exchange to add its records into Community's virtual single patient record.

These kinds of patient records already exist within massive, integrated health care systems, he said, such as the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and California-based Kaiser Permanente. But he said Community is one of the first community-based hospitals to implement such a system. 

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