UT Southwestern Among the "Most Wired," Thanks to Technology Designed for Better Patient Care

Released: 9-Jul-2014 9:15 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: UT Southwestern Medical Center
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Newswise — DALLAS – July 9, 2014 – UT Southwestern Medical Center is on the national “Most Wired” hospitals list for a fourth consecutive year, thanks to its use of such technologies as databases to help physicians better identify high-risk patients and tools that keep physicians, nurses, and patients communicating effectively.

The “Most Wired” list is distributed annually by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the flagship publication of the American Hospital Association. The magazine evaluates hospitals on information technology in four areas: infrastructure, business/administrative management, clinical quality/safety, and clinical integration.

“Our vision for technology is hard wired into our mission to continually improve patient care, to remain at the forefront of innovative research, and to ensure the next generation of physicians are well prepared for the challenges awaiting them,” said Dr. Bruce Meyer, Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs. “This honor underscores that commitment on all three fronts.”

UT Southwestern’s latest efforts have focused on expanding technology to enable patient information to be accepted from both internal and external sources, including physicians not associated with UT Southwestern.

“We added health information systems so that we can get a complete view of the patient,” said Suresh Gunasekaran, Associate Vice President for Health System Information Resources. “This allows us to better manage the health and well-being of patients, helping to prevent medical issues so they don’t need to come to the hospital.”

An important part of that effort is to continue integrating patient information into electronic health records by making MyChart more easily accessible through smart phone applications. MyChart allows patients to make and track appointments, see test results, communicate with physicians and nurses, and carry medical records easily in their pocket through phone apps. In addition, an increasing number of people are using the apps to help manage healthcare needs for elderly parents and children.

Videoconferencing also is playing a greater role and will be fundamental to UT Southwestern’s new William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, scheduled to open in late 2014. Through videoconferencing technology at the hospital, patients will be able to connect with loved ones as well as physicians, whether at UT Southwestern or in their hometowns. Physicians on campus will be able to connect with UTSW doctors at other locations, with pathologists with lab results, and with colleagues around the world. And in keeping with UT Southwestern’s mission to educate current and future generations of physicians, physicians can use the videoconferencing technology to improve learning opportunities for medical students.

UT Southwestern also is expanding its telemedicine efforts, particularly in areas such as heart care, stroke, and transplant medicine, allowing videoconferencing with patients not in the immediate area and working with physicians to provide the benefit of UT Southwestern’s expertise.

“We are able to bring the best care at a moment’s notice through the use of technology,” Mr. Gunasekaran said.

For example, SMART Board technology is integrated throughout the William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital and Zale Lipshy University Hospital. The SMART Board technology allows medical records, x-rays, and other images to be pulled up for medical conferences and case discussions among multidisciplinary teams, while allowing students instant access to the notations being made. That keeps UT Southwestern at the forefront of medical education and ensures graduates are nationally competitive and prepared for the next step in their education.

Data warehousing – compiling large databases – helps medical researchers identify and investigate trends, determine which new technologies are most effective, and identify those most at risk. Investing in the ability to develop data warehouses is fundamental to UT Southwestern’s distinctive mission as an academic medical center.

Testing new technologies prior to large rollouts, as well as ensuring data remains secure, are critical elements of UT Southwestern’s technology strategy. The medical center’s information technology development was driven by a 2002 gift from an anonymous donor who challenged the university to develop an IT infrastructure that would augment the quality of care provided to patients.

Additional donations ensured that this infrastructure was used to drive patient-centric innovation and improvement.

“We’re always pleased to be able to offer our patients the latest and greatest technologies. But effectively using that leading-edge technology to improve patient care and safety is a compelling commitment at UT Southwestern,” said Dr. Meyer.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including six who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. Numbering more than 2,700, the faculty is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 91,000 hospitalized patients and oversee more than 2 million outpatient visits a year.


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