Having successfully implemented electronically accessible medical records available throughout its clinics, inpatient areas and doctor offices, University of New Mexico Hospitals (UNMH) has been named one of the "100 Most Wired" hospitals in the country.

"UNM Hospitals is proud to be recognized for the advances we have made in improving our electronic medical records," said Steve McKernan, CEO of UNMH. "This is part of a long-term plan to provide the highest quality of care to the community."

Hospitals & Health Networks (HHN) Most Wired magazine this week released its list, which also includes notable hospitals such as Cedars-Sinai Health System of Los Angeles, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Yale University Hospital and Northwestern University Hospitals and Clinics.

Compiling the list each of the last four years, HHN polled hospitals and health systems on their use of Internet-based technologies to connect with five groups: patients, doctors and nurses, employees, suppliers, and health plans.

UNMH, which three years ago launched a project to develop a complete lifetime Electronic Medical Record (EMR) for each patient to replace the more traditional and cumbersome paper records kept in each department earned the "Most Wired" distinction for the first time this year.

"This Electronic Medical Record program is expected to be five years in duration and cost $12 to 20 million, but the result will provide better access to information for our doctors and patients," said Ron Margolis, chief information officer for UNMH. "This "Most Wired" award recognizes the progress and improvements that we've achieved to this date."

The EMR includes a patient's latest discharge and visit notes, lab results, list of complaints and allergies and a history of treatments.

Healthcare providers at UNMH can access all patient information through an "internal internet" which is electronically protected against intrusion from those not authorized to use the patient data. Each time a patient's electronic medical record is viewed, a note is made in the record.

The plan to "wire" UNMH calls for computerized physician order entry and electronic prescription order entry in the future.

"These systems vastly improve the quality of patient information and the speed at which clinicians can then retrieve the data," said Margolis.

Even more importantly, Margolis added, an electronic medical record reduces the chance of making an error by increasing accuracy and timeliness of data.

The "Most Wired" award acknowledges UNMH's achievements with its Internet, Intranet and the electronic materials management system it uses with suppliers. At the Internet site http://hospitals.unm.edu, patients can access information about a variety of health issues and current medical trends, as well as information about each of the five UNM hospitals, directories of doctors, departments and services.

"As the only "Most Wired" hospital between Dallas, Los Angeles and Salt Lake City, our patients and staff are assured that UNM Hospitals can provide the highest level of healthcare services using the latest clinical and information technologies," said Margolis. "That, combined with the academic standing of the UNM Health Sciences Center, means UNMH provides a broad range of services of the highest quality."

The HHN survey asked detailed questions about how hospitals and health systems use the Internet to connect with the five groups and also examined technology infrastructure.

The "Most Wired" list, according to HHN, helps health care professionals to examine how their organizations use online technology to serve constituents and to measure how the use of online technology changes. The list also creates a benchmark group that CEOs can use to determine best practices.

HHN's analysis of the "100 Most Wired" shows those hospitals have better access to capital via better credit ratings and are more profitable and are in better financial condition than the average hospital. The recognized hospitals also have more cash and higher margins, but also slightly more debt and a slightly older physical plant, the HHN analysis showed.

For more information about the "100 Most Wired," visit www.hhnmag.com and click on "2002 Most Wired."


Contact: Lynn Melton, 272-3322