Most Wired hospitals list 'carries more weight' with redesign

By Molly Merrill
10:55 AM
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In its 13th year, the Most Wired hospitals and health systems list, put out by Hospitals & Health Networks, seems to have upped its value as an indicator of hospital care, rather than just a marketing tool.

The hospitals on this year’s list showed strides in computerized physician order entry, the ability to restore data after power loss and encryption on movable devices to safeguard information. The survey also noted progress on integration of electronic health records with digital clinical imaging and improvement in digital dictation, structured reporting and voice recognition with picture archiving and communication.

[See also: 'Most Wired' hospitals for 2011 named.]

The survey, however, did demonstrate that even the Most Wired Hospitals are struggling when it comes to meaningful use. Fifty-one percent still manually enter CMS core measure data into an electronic file, H&HN reported.

Back in 2008, when a panel of physicians discussed the Most Wired Hospitals list at the Physician-Computer Connection Symposium put on by AMDIS, the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems, some docs called the list into question.

“Hospital executives like this survey because it’s a good marketing tool,” said one physician. Another attendee agreed, suggesting that hospitals only participate in the survey because they know that it can be used for marketing purposes.

The survey, however, has evolved over the years, and in 2010 officials said it had been redesigned to produce better data by including new questions about meaningful use as well as increased CIO involvement in survey development and use of a transparent scoring methodology.

According to H&HN, “The 2011 survey results continue to build on the new analytic structure that was implemented in 2010 after two years of redesign. This year, many additional requirements corresponded to meaningful use criteria, although they were not as stringent as federal meaningful use requirements, for the most part.”

The survey asks hospitals to report on IT in four areas: infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety and care continuum.

[See also: Physicians raise doubts about 'most wired' list.]

“The new methodology used to select Most Wired facilities set specific requirements in each of the four focus areas," said H&HN officials, concerning the methodology of the survey. "If any of these requirements are not met, the organization does not achieve the Most Wired designation. Thus, an organization may have many advanced capabilities in the focus areas and not achieve the Most Wired status."

“I do think that previously the list was probably used more for a marketing tool,” said Susie Cook, RN, owner and president of SusieCook RN Healthcare Consulting. “But now that some changes have been made in the questions and more specifics for meaningful use, etc., the survey carries more weight for exemplifying the benefits for improving quality and safety of patient care.”

“In my opinion, I think the list is helpful, especially as the HIT movement accelerates,” she added. “There are multiple benefits of the list. For example, my business assists small and rural hospitals in building and implementing their EMR system in less time by educating the nursing management in strategic planning and preparation before the IT Team arrives. I use the list to contact hospitals that have been successful and brainstorm and compare the aspects of the EMR system they have implemented (i.e., CPOE, decision & support, medication) and ask about any problems they may have encountered and how they resolved the issues.”

Then, said Cook, "I incorporate this information and guidance into the education. It is a great way to help each other and avoid costly mistakes. The EMR endeavor is a process and the smaller hospitals have to lean on each other because most hospitals will not have IT departments dedicated to working on these projects."

If you have any comments about the Most Wired list, please send them to @writehit.