ThedaCare Again Ranks Among 'Most Wired'

Healthcare System Makes Top 100 List for 12 Years in a Row

Placing a focus on patient communication and access to information helped ThedaCare earn top marks for the 12th consecutive year in an annual survey of the nation’s most technologically advanced health care systems.

ThedaCare was named to the “100 Most Wired” hospitals and health systems list, according to this year’s survey by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the American Hospital Association. ThedaCare is one of nine health systems to be named to the list.

Electronic medical records and MyThedaCare, a secure online portal, keep patients and doctors connected, leading to improved care, said Keith Livingston, senior vice president and chief information officer for ThedaCare.

“Patients are asking for more information and control and they get that with MyThedaCare,” he said. “They can look at medical information, such as vaccination records; send a question to their provider; ask for a prescription refill; and some can even schedule an appointment. This is the kind of access people are asking for.”

Nathan Grunwald, MD, a family physician with ThedaCare Physicians-Menasha, said MyThedaCare helps patients access information quickly. For example, patients can view their own labs and test results online. “The fact patients can see their labs and test results and plan of care and health maintenance reminders keeps them more engaged in their health care and my patients can participate more in their health care decisions,” Dr. Grunwald said.

MyThedaCare also allows patients to contact him directly online and he can answer simple questions, Dr. Grunwald said. ThedaCare Physicians-Menasha also piloted a program last year that allowed patients to directly schedule appointments using MyThedaCare. “They didn’t have to call the office. Patients can simply see the open appointment times and chose one that works for them and schedule it directly,” he said.

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.

When ThedaCare began work on its electronic medical record system more than a decade ago, Livingston said the goal was to create a community health record so wherever patients went – their primary care physician, a specialist, or the hospital – medical providers would be able to view the records.

“We’ve been successful in doing that. There are more than 480 clinicians in ThedaCare or affiliated with ThedaCare who are part of our records system,” he said. “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.

Livingston said ThedaCare is constantly looking at ways to improve its technology and responding to patients’ needs. “When it comes to technology, it’s all about convenience. Technology is constantly evolving and improving and we are striving to keep up.”

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:

  • Appleton Medical Center, New London Medical Center, Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca, Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah 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 2010 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.

McKesson Corporation is a healthcare services and information technology company dedicated to helping its customers deliver high-quality healthcare by reducing costs, streamlining processes, and improving the quality and safety of patient care.

Marking its 15th year, the annual Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study, one of the leading IT benchmarking tools in health care, measures hospital IT activities in five key areas: quality, customer service, public health and safety, business processes, and workforce issues.

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employer in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.