A Look Back Leads to a Glimpse of the Future

By Jeff Rowe
10:00 AM

Thanks to Patty Enrado for welcoming me to EHRWatch.com. As I transition into the role of site editor, my mission is to uphold the high standards established by Patty. I look forward to the challenge.

So where to begin? Perhaps with a bit of personal connection to the medical field.

My mother was an anesthesiology nurse at the Geisinger Hospital in Danville, Pa., in the 1950s. Harold Foss, MD, hand-picked as the hospital’s first chief surgeon in 1915 by founder Abigail Geisinger, served as superintendant of the facility during my mother’s tenure there. I recall her telling me that Dr. Foss personally consoled her after she had witnessed for the first time the death of a patient in the OR.

My two sisters and I were born at “the Geisinger,” as it was known in the community. And in the early 1970s, my father had life-saving surgery there to repair an aortic aneurism.

In my mind’s eye, I picture a light brown building scenically situated on a hillside, surrounded by a few support structures. But I know things have changed dramatically.

Today, Geisinger Health System serves 2.6 million residents throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania. System-wide, Geisinger discharges from inpatient units more than 37,000 people per year and handles more than 2.2 million outpatient visits. ED visits exceed 83,000, surgery cases top 34,000, and births surpass 3,000.

Revenue for the health system totals $2.3 billion, with capital investment of $139 million and an operating margin of $105 million.

On April 6, Geisinger -- along with Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare and Group Health Cooperative -- announced the creation of the Care Connectivity Consortium (CCC). The group’s stated purpose will be to” utilize standards-based health information technology to share data about patients electronically.”

The CCC wants to demonstrate that effective and timely health information exchange using IT standards is possible in a secure environment among geographically disparate health care providers. If one consortium partner sends a patient to another CCC facility, for example, doctors and nurses at the receiving hospital will be able to access information about the patient’s condition, medications and allergies. The connection will streamline care and help avoid medication errors.

By taking part in this initiative, Geisinger continues its amazing evolution from community institution to national pacesetter. Along with its compatriots in California, Minnesota, Utah and Washington, the health system will help extend the reach of health information exchange from coast to coast.

Mrs. Geisinger and Dr. Foss would be pleased to know that the hospital they founded 96 years ago is at the forefront of a new age of patient care.