“Being named a Most Wired Hospital is truly our Tour de France in healthcare technology,”
Ross Hurd, LCCH Chief Informational Officer
Lake Chelan Community Hospital (LCCH) has been recognized as one of the nation’s MOST WIRED—SMALL AND RURAL hospitals, according to the results of the 2010 Most Wired Survey released in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the journal of the American Hospital Association.
What does this designation mean to the Lake Chelan community? Being named to the Most Wired list ultimately translates into higher quality care, improved patient safety and operational efficiency.
During the last several years, LCCH has adopted technology toward these goals, including collaborative projects like TelePharmacy, TeleRadiology, TeleStroke and TeleHealth education. Efforts by LCCH to implement electronic medical records (EMRs) and computerized physician order entry (CPOE) also contributed to the Most Wired recognition.
“Being named a Most Wired Hospital is truly our Tour de France in healthcare technology,” said Ross Hurd, LCCH Chief Information Officer. “As a small independent hospital, we are leading the curve in technology, and we’ve been able to do it while remaining in the black.”
The TeleMedicine programs at LCCH have strengthened the small 25-bed hospital’s ties to larger facilities, and it’s now easier for local family physicians to collaborate with a larger network of providers. The community hospital is connected electronically to Wenatchee hospitals, as well as Harborview Medical Center, UW Medical Center, Virginia Mason Hospital, Swedish Medical Center and Seattle Children’s. The hospital also networks with Spokane’s Sacred Heart Medical Center and Deaconess Medical Center.
“We have incredible specialists in our region and across the state,” said Hurd. “They can’t all come to us, but we can put state-of-the-art equipment in our facility and route that information straight to them, meaning patients can potentially stay close to home for more of their medical care as we partner with others.”
Because smaller hospitals cannot afford to have specialists on staff 24/7, electronic connections to other facilities become crucial to patient care. Lake Chelan Hospital’s TeleStroke program, which connects directly to a stroke team at Swedish Hospital, allows local providers to administer medication that saves lives and brain function. This couldn’t happen before the partnership, because there is not a neurologist on staff at LCCH. Likewise, the facility’s other TeleMedicine programs mean local patients have access to a pharmacist and radiologist at all hours, every day, even though providers are not always on site.
In addition, the connections to other facilities keep local providers up-to-date on medical advances. Partnerships with Sacred Heart and Virginia Mason bring crucial electronic continuing education courses to Lake Chelan physicians and providers.
"I am honored our community hospital was named one of the year’s Most Wired Hospitals,” said Kevin Abel, LCCH CEO, who attributes the recognition to the hard work of CIO Hurd, Mike Collins, Information Technology manager, and the hospital clinical team.
“This is a critical milestone for LCCH as we strive to meet the Federal information technology requirements by 2011, but, most important, these efforts help us deliver the best care for the people in our community.”
The technology and programs contributing to LCCH’s Most Wired Hospital recognition are the result of a decade of work and commitment. The facility began switching from paper to electronic medical records in 2000. Hurd was hired as CIO in 2006.
From the beginning, Hurd was charged with the task of getting LCCH on the Most Wired list. “Administration recognized that adopting technology to move us forward in healthcare was crucial to the community,” he said.
The man behind the technology
Hurd, who grew up on a Wenatchee cattle and wheat ranch, owned a computer consulting business at the time. His expertise was in wide area networking, routing internet traffic, and in 2003, he built a system connecting a group of small North Central Washington hospitals in a medically secure fiberoptic network, allowing them to create a TeleRadiology group and share physicians. Lake Chelan Community Hospital was part of that group.
The collaboration was very successful. The group was awarded the first USDA Distance Learning Grant, and, administered by Community Choice and Grants Management NW, they received it for four more years.
Intrigued by the challenge of helping LCCH become a Most Wired Hospital, Hurd dove into the task at hand. Four years later he is ecstatic that his team has achieved the goal and looks forward to more challenges, including designing the information technology system for a new Lake Chelan hospital and developing more TeleMedicine programs, such as TeleCardiology.
“I am never bored,” he said. “There is work in front of me for the next five years. I enjoy the depth and integrity of healthcare technology, and what I do matters. It’s critical care.
“I do this job because the technology we build saves lives.”
Hurd will be presented with the award at an American Hospital Association Summit Meeting in San Diego July 23.
Hospitals & Health Networks conducted the 2010 survey in cooperation with McKesson Corporation and CHIME. The July H&HN cover story detailing results is available at www.hhnmag.com.
About the American Hospital Association (AHA)
The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the improvement of health in their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which includes more than 5,000 member hospitals, health systems and other health care organizations, and 38,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends.