ThedaCare Again Ranks Among 'Most Wired'

Healthcare System Makes Top 100 List for 13 Years in a Row

Patients and medical providers are more connected than ever before thanks to technology – something Eileen Jekot, MD, a pediatrician with ThedaCare Physicians-Pediatrics in Neenah, knows well. She recently returned to an exam room with results from a rapid strep test only to find the patient’s mother already knew the results – thanks to an email from MyThedaCare on her phone.

“It’s amazing the role technology plays in linking patients and doctors,” Dr. Jekot said. “Patients have never before had so much information at their fingertips.”

ThedaCare’s focus on patient communication and increased access to information and medical records helped the Appleton-based health system earn top marks on Hospitals & Health Networks magazine’s “100 Most Wired” hospitals and health systems list. This is the 13th year in a row that ThedaCare has made the list for the magazine, which is a journal for the American Hospital Association. ThedaCare is one of nine health systems in Wisconsin to make the list and the only one based in the Fox Valley.

Electronic medical records, which allow doctors to view and update patient files from multiple locations, and My ThedaCare, a secure online portal for patients, enhance medical care, bringing better care to patients, said Keith Livingston, senior vice president and chief information officer for ThedaCare. Electronic medical records are especially vital since they keep doctors informed about their patients, he added.

“From Green Lake and Ripon right through Oshkosh and Appleton and north to Shawano – wherever we have providers – there’s a single electronic medical record for each patient and that means medical providers all have the same information about a patient’s tests, health history, and medication,” Livingston said. “That leads to better patient care because everyone is working from the same piece of information.”

The health system joined the Care Everywhere network earlier this year where patients can give their permission for their electronic medical records to be shared outside of ThedaCare with leading healthcare providers in Wisconsin and beyond. ThedaCare is also a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which means doctors can share information about patients electronically with Mayo specialists.

“We’ve been successful creating a community electronic medical record with more than 1.2 million unique records so information is easily shared,” Livingston said. “There are more than 800 clinicians in ThedaCare or affiliated with ThedaCare who are part of our records system. So if you’re at a specialist, such as an OB-GYN or an orthopedics doctor, your primary care doctor can see what happened during that visit. That communication is vital in leading to a better level of care.”

ThedaCare was an early pioneer implementing electronic medical records when it began transferring paper medical records to electronic files in 1999. Today, patients benefit from ThedaCare’s digital file system, which gives their health care providers instant access to their medical information, regardless of location. In addition to helping inform providers about a patient’s medical history, the system also draws attention to possible medication interactions, allergies and reminds the provider of any tests or immunizations the patient may need.

Using the MyThedaCare portal, patients can access their own health information, communicate with their providers and schedule appointments, Dr. Jekot said. She said using technology to stay connected benefits both patients and their medical providers. She said online scheduling is especially helpful since it can be done at any time – not just during office hours.

“As a working parent myself, I often don’t have down time until well after the doctor or dentist’s office is closed. Online scheduling allows a parent to efficiently get an appointment on the books, without having the office to be ‘open’ and without waiting on the phone,” Dr. Jekot said.

MyThedaCare also helps parents when they may have a simple question or if they want to give the doctor a heads up before the appointment about a potentially sensitive topic that might be difficult to discuss in front of the child so the doctor is aware of what’s going on, Dr. Jekot said. “MyThedaCare cuts down on the missed phone calls between the office and patients and puts the information in patients’ hands when they need it,” she said.

The 100 Most Wired hospitals show better outcomes in patient satisfaction, risk-adjusted mortality rates and other key quality measures through the use of information technology, according to an analysis by Most Wired Survey. In addition to MyThedaCare and electronic medical records, here are some other examples of how ThedaCare’s technology improves patient care and satisfaction:

  • All seven ThedaCare hospitals and Encircle Health in Appleton offer public wireless access for patients and their family in all patient care areas.
  • An integrated robotic pharmacy system manages and dispenses drugs.
  • Computer software automates bedside specimen collection and print labeling, reducing errors.
  • ThedaCare’s imaging system – including X-ray, CT, and MRI machines – is completely digital so images can be viewed from any computer.

The Most Wired Survey is conducted annually by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the AHA, which uses the results to name the 100 Most Wired hospitals and health systems. It focuses on how the nation’s hospitals use information technologies for quality, customer service, public health and safety, business processes and workforce issues. Hospitals & Health Networks conducted the 2014 survey in cooperation with McKesson Corp. and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. The July H&HN cover story detailing results is available at www.hhnmag.com.

The 2014 Most Wired Survey is conducted in cooperation with McKesson Corp., AT&T, the College of

Healthcare Information Management Executives, and the American Hospital Association. This is the survey’s 16th year.

The AHA is a nonprofit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which includes nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, and other providers of care. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at www.aha.org.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of seven hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, ThedaCare Medical Center-New London, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. Community Health Network, which includes Community Memorial Hospital in Berlin, and Wild Rose Memorial Hospital are in the process of affiliating with ThedaCare. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, and ThedaCare At Home. ThedaCare is one of the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.