Health Information Exchange Featured Article

August 17, 2012

Atlantic Health System Takes 'Most Wired' Distinction Three Years Running

The issue of information technology in healthcare is one that's been under deep and intense scrutiny for about as long as information technology has existed. Meanwhile, Hospitals and Health Networks – the American Hospital Association's journal – has named the Atlantic Health System in Morristown one of its "Health Care's Most Wired" awards for its use of information technology in normal operations.

The award, which comes the Atlantic Health System's way for the third year in a row, represents gains made in the total technology loadout at the Morristown, Overlook and Newton medical centers, as well as that of Goryeb Children's Hospital. Gaining the distinction means that the group is not only using the most current technology that can be had, but is making some efforts in future-proofing its operations by being ready to bring tomorrow's advances in as well.

The award, according to Linda Reed, vice president of information systems, CIO and registered nurse with the Atlantic Health System, represents the end result of years of planning and investment, of building infrastructure, and being ready for changes that are, at this stage of the game, not the best defined.

In fact, reports suggest that this year's award came following a year packed with changes for the Atlantic Health System, including substantial upgrades in technology. But it wasn't just more hardware that went into play; Atlantic Health System also reportedly engaged in a set of physician alignment initiatives, upgrades to health record keeping and a massive retooling of the Newton Medical Center's IT systems following its entrance into the Atlantic Health System with a merger in 2011.

The planned upgrades don't stop there, as Atlantic Health System clearly has its collective eye on taking the award once again in 2013 via a new electronic system called Horizon Expert Notes, a system geared toward replacing both hand-written and dictated physicians' notes in a bid to remove the ambiguity that often arises with handwriting.

The joke about no one being able to read doctors' handwriting is an old one indeed, and one that may well no longer be funny under the Atlantic Health System plan.

With concerns about security and access to patient records front of mind for many healthcare officials, the Atlantic Health System's advancements in communications technology have to be considered a welcome move indeed. Its acknowledgment as major a publication as the American Hospital Association's own journal is proof the organization is doing everything in its power to make sure the sheer power of information technology is working for it, and by extension, for the patients under its care.

Edited by Braden Becker