'Most Connected' hospitals of 2012 announced

By Erin McCann
10:14 AM

U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday published its 2012 list of the Most Connected Hospitals. The list includes 156 U.S. hospitals nationwide, ranked according to their advancement in electronic medical record (EMR) adoption.

Over the past few years, the EMR has become part of the daily routine of medical professionals throughout the country. The promise of the EMR is often widely lauded among those in the healthcare profession. Some experts say the technology could prove to make the delivery of healthcare safer and more efficient in addition to providing healthcare providers and patients with better access to health data.

The federal government, through its incentive payments to physicians and hospitals that demonstrate meaningful use of EMRs, has played a central role in spurring the technology's adoption. A burgeoning number of hospitals have embraced EMRs beyond the government benchmarks. 

[See also: 'Most Wired' hospitals named for 2012.]

According to experts, an even smaller subset of those hospitals also succeed in delivering the superior care that U.S. News recognizes in its Best Hospitals. For the second consecutive year, the magazine has published a list of the Most Connected Hospitals to highlight institutions that are both digitally forward and clinically excellent.

The 156 institutions on this year's Most Connected Hospitals list have met three challenging standards that put them in the vanguard of centers leading medicine into the era of electronic medical records.

Each is distinguished by having captured a national ranking in the 2012-13 U.S. News Best Hospitals and/or Best Children's Hospitals rankings or by having earned the designation of "high-performing" in one or more medical specialties. And each hospital, or one or more of its major units – such as a children's hospital within the larger institution – is a leader in moving to electronic medical records.

[See also: EMR as opportunity.]

“There are two different pieces that a hospital had to satisfy for the hospital to be on the list,” Ben Harder, general manager of the Health Rankings. “One is clinical excellence. We looked at how a hospital performed across 16 different specialties,” including cardiology, ear nose and throat and geriatrics.

“Secondly, we were looking for leaders in EMR adoption and health IT adoption," he added. "A hospital had to have achieved meaningful use according to the federal standards." This had to be satisfied by July 10, 2012. Current U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requirements for achieving meaningful use of electronic medical records include using them for e-prescribing, for electronic exchange of medical records, for supplying medical data to patients and for providing data that can be used to monitor clinical quality.

Hospitals also had to meet strict criteria for EMR use set by HIMSS Analytics, a division of the nonprofit Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society that analyzes use of health information technology. HIMSS Analytics scores hospitals' adoption of electronic medical records on a scale from Stage 0 (no use of EMRs) to Stage 7 (full use, where the medical organization no longer uses paper records and has incorporated health IT into virtually every part of clinical care). Only hospitals at Stage 6 or Stage 7 as of July were eligible to appear on the Most Connected Hospitals list.

[See also: U.S. News & World Report taps HIMSS Analytics for hospital measures.]

Some of the hospitals that earned Stage 7 distinction include: Mayo Clinic, Boston Children’s Hospital, Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, UC San Diego Medical Center, Stanford Hospital & Clinics, Ohio State University Hospital and the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics. 

The list of U.S. News and World Report's 156 Most Connected hospitals can be found on the next page.