Two Illinois hospitals share information over portal

By Healthcare IT News
12:00 AM

Physicians in the capital city of Illinois will have an easier time using the information systems at its two large hospitals.

That's because the front ends to the two systems will have a similar look and feel, thanks to unprecedented cooperation between the medical centers and the use of a flexible portal application.

Implementation of the portal is nearly complete at St. John's Hospital, a 600-bed teaching hospital that's part of Hospital Sisters Health System. Implementation is in development at Memorial Medical Center, the other large hospital in Springfield.

This cooperative effort is an example of how competing organizations can cooperate to get physicians to embrace electronic systems.

The hospitals started the effort about two years ago to engender more physician support of their systems and enhance physician relationships. The buildings are only three blocks apart, and physicians frequently have patients in both hospitals, said Gordon Lashmett, director of information systems at St. John's Hospital.

"We wanted to overcome that initial issue of getting to the information," he said. "So both hospitals decided to standardize the means of delivery and access."

The organizations contracted with Open Text, a Waterloo, Ontario-based company that offers a portal application that provides single sign-on access to appropriate information applications.

The hospitals also decided to standardize user names for physicians, which was a large effort, Lashmett said. And while the Open Text portal is simple to use and has an appearance similar to Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, it required a lot of IT work behind the scenes.

"I liken the portal to an interface engine," Lashmett said. "It doesn't come with a template or a tried-and-true of implementing it."

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