Priorities that Make a Difference

This month we're proud to announce the winners of our third annual "Top 10 Connected Healthcare Facilities." As you'll see on page 22, we're distinguishing 10 facilities that stand out among the rest in connecting images and information across the enterprise (which, not coincidentally, is the mission of our magazine). Drum roll, please…and the winners are: Brigham and Women's/Faulkner Hospital, Integris Health: Baptist Medical Center & Southwest Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, MeritCare Health System, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, Sentara Healthcare, Sutter Novato & Marin General Hospitals, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at University of Texas and University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics.

Why these facilities and health systems bubbled to the top of the almost 300 nominations is a matter of priority - the priorities these leaders have set in technology and integration. They share the vision of high-quality, safe, efficient and cost-effective healthcare powered by electronic information that enables the delivery of comprehensive medical care - and the reduction of costs by eliminating duplication of care. And those initiatives add up. They quoted up to 80 percent reductions in film costs; 30 to 50 percent decreases in file room staff; 20 to 60 percent increases in report turnaround time and reductions in offsite storage needs.

As we read through the scores of nominations, the technologies increasing in priority are integrated RIS-PACS, EHR, CPOE, voice recognition software, wireless connectivity and devices (notably in the OR) and digital mammography that largely completes the digital loop and vision these leading-edge facilities seek. Facilities are bringing lab data and waveforms online, too. Of the few facilities quoting IT-related budget numbers, many were above - some by three times - the national average of 2.5 percent of the total facility budget.

This year, we've added a dozen Honorable Mentions divided into six categories: Heart Hospitals, Children's Hospitals, IDNs, Imaging Centers, Municipality-Owned Hospitals and Small Hospitals.

Congratulations to the winners - and thanks for taking the lead in making IT a priority!