The road less traveled

Daniel Nigrin, MD, chief information officer at Boston Children's Hospital

Boston Children's Hospital knows a little something about what it takes to be at the top. Consistently recognized for its medical specialties and patient care, it is considered one of the best pediatric hospitals in the world. 

The exceptional care administered by the nation's leading physicians and nurses stands as a primary driver of success, but often off to the side of the spotlight stands the hospital's advanced health information technology that has been instrumental in transforming the quality of patient care. 

The hospital's sophisticated electronic health record system, for instance, is one of those things you might write home to your mom about.

For 10 years, Daniel Nigrin, MD, chief information officer at Boston Children's, has been working on implementing the hospital's EHR. The end result? "It's literally a single application that you can see all of the information about your patient," he said.  Ambulatory, in-patient, outpatient, surgical, pharmacy, and emergency patient care are all integrated into the system  -  which turns out to be really dozens of systems seamlessly connected. 

In 2010, the path to paperless was complete after a collaborative effort  -  including Nigrin, Marvin Harper, CMIO at Boston Children's, in addition to numerous physicians, nurses and IT staff  -  eventually yielded a HIMSS Stage 7 Award. Boston Children's is one of 1.2 percent of hospitals achieving this distinction. 

In addition to achieving Stage 7, the hospital has also received nine 'Most Wired" awards from the Hospitals and Health Networks and the 'Most Connected' designation bestowed by the U.S. News and World Report. 

The exemplary health IT endeavors of Boston Children's officials has suggested that the road less traveled by has indeed made all the difference. 

On achieving nine 'Most Wired' awards

Nigrin: Way back when we started on this journey 10 years long, it was primarily focused on improving patient safety and optimizing care processes, making things more efficient where possible. I think just as part of that process, the way that we've achieved going after that stuff has resulted in us also garnering some awards along the way, because I think, in large measure, many organizations are trying to move along the same path, and so a lot of these awards are benchmarked based on achieving certain levels of achieving automation, clinical order entry, how automated you are, telemedicine, etc.

What advice do you have for hospitals working to successfully implement this kind of system?