UF Health recognized for IT initiatives

For the second consecutive year, University of Florida Health has received recognition for information technology initiatives that better connect patients’ various health care providers in order to provide better medical care.

In July, UF Health was named among the nation’s “Most Wired” by “Hospitals and Health Networks,” the flagship publication of the American Hospital Association.

“The UF Health IT department has been instrumental in keeping our organization on the leading edge of medical advancement,” said David S. Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., UF senior vice president for health affairs and UF Health president. “Guided by our 2010 Strategic Plan, ‘Forward Together,’ we made a commitment to electronic medical records as a means of simultaneously improving the quality of care and providing the substrate for clinical research. The Most Wired designation recognizes key achievements in these areas, and is a reflection of the vision that characterizes our efforts to achieve world-class outcomes with comprehensive, patient-centered care.”

Information systems improve quality and patient safety, improve our business processes and give us information to make better decisions, said Kari Cassel, senior vice president and chief information officer for UF Health.

“We embed those same systems in our educational curriculums to teach our UF Health students how to effectively use technology,” Cassel said. “We also work closely with our scientists and faculty to empower clinical research studies, the results of which add back into our clinical knowledge base to benefit patient care.”

A survey conducted by the magazine, the 16th annual Health Care’s Most Wired Survey, determined the designees. The survey, which was conducted between Jan. 15 and March 15, asked hospitals and health systems nationwide to answer questions regarding their IT initiatives.

Respondents completed 680 surveys representing 1,900 hospitals — approximately 33 percent of all U.S. hospitals. Of these, 375 organizations received the Most Wired designation. Twenty hospitals in Florida made the list.

Most Wired hospitals meet a specific set of criteria across four categories: infrastructure, clinical quality and safety, clinical integration, and business and administrative management. According to the “Hospitals and Health Networks” website, these hospitals have effectively deployed technologies such as computerized provider order entry, and alerts and medication matching at the bedside, and now are eyeing data analytics and population health management.

UF Health has focused on three major technology goals over the last three to four years, Cassel said. This includes adding functionality to Epic, the electronic medical records system employed by UF Health and UF Health Jacksonville. The Epic software supports many aspects of the health system on both campuses, including electronic patient scheduling, fiscal management and revenue cycle, she said.

A component of Epic is MyUFHealth, a website and smartphone app that allows patients to access their test results, request prescription refills, communicate with providers and manage appointments.

“We’ve worked hard to make the MyUFHealth patient portal more easily accessible to our patients, and we encourage them to have more interaction with their physicians and involvement in their own health care,” said Donald Novak, M.D., assistant dean for clinical informatics in the UF College of Medicine.

Secondly, Cassel’s team helped connect UF Health to the Health Information Exchange, a national network of health providers that can share patient information and health records. The exchange is a government initiative. With support from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, the Florida Health Information Exchange formed in 2010. As part of the Florida exchange, UF Health doctors, nurses, pharmacists and patients can appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically — improving the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care.

Lastly, UF Health also has made a major investment in an Integrated Data Repository, a large-scale database that collects and organizes information from across UF Health’s clinical and research enterprises. This secure, clinical data warehouse aggregates data from the university’s various clinical and administrative information systems, including Epic. With support from the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute and UF Health Shands Hospital, the repository supports all three missions of the academic health center — patient care, research and education — and allows collaborative work with other institutions to improve overall knowledge and outcomes, said Gigi Lipori, M.T., M.B.A., senior director for operational planning and analysis at UF Health Shands Hospital.

“The Affordable Care Act’s emphasis on outcome-driven care, lower readmission rates and reduced complication rates dovetails with several of our initiatives,” Lipori said. “We monitor readmission rates and make sure that clinical staff reviews data. We support many patient-care outcome improvement initiatives, for example analysis of pain meds and pain scores post-surgery.”

The 2014 Health Care’s Most Wired Survey was sponsored by McKesson Corp., AT&T, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the American Hospital Association.