Chester County Hospital has been named one of the Most Wired Hospitals in the nation, according to the 16th annual Health Care's Most Wired Survey, conducted by Hospitals & Health Networks. This is the second consecutive year the hospital has made the list.

As the nation's health care system transitions to more integrated and patient-centered care, hospitals are utilizing information technology to better connect the wide realm of care providers, according to Hospitals & Health Networks.

The West Chester-based hospital is one of only 19 hospitals in the state of Pennsylvania to receive the Most Wired designation, which was awarded, based on a survey of hospitals' uses of technology in infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and patient safety, and clinical integration. It is also one of only 375 hospitals in the nation to receive the designation. The University of Pennsylvania Health System, of which Chester County Hospital is affiliated, also received Most Wired recognition.

"Health care in the 21st century is so complex that advanced technology must be used to assure safe and optimal care," says Ray Hess, Vice President of Information Management at Chester County Hospital. "We recognized this reality more than a decade ago. It has been a long hard road, but we see the fruits of our labor every day through the quality care that is being delivered and the outcomes that are achieved."

The survey noted that Most Wired hospitals have made tremendous gains by using information technology (IT) to reduce the likelihood of medical errors. Among Most Wired hospitals, 81 percent use bar-code technology at the bedside to assure an accurate match between medications, patient and nurse. This IT initiative, which the hospital has had in place for numerous years, confirms that the right patient is receiving the right drug, dose, administration route, time and frequency before the nurse gives the medication each time.

The publication noted that, as the nation's health care system transition to more integrated and patient-centered care, hospitals are utilizing IT to better connect disparate care providers, and that 67 percent of Most Wired hospitals share critical patient information electronically with specialists and other care providers. Chester County Hospital is actively connecting to physician offices so that it can electronically and securely pass key patient data directly into the office computer systems. The hospital has launched a Patient Portal (called Health e-Me), through which inpatients and outpatients can access their hospital records and detailed discharge instructions for future reference.

Chester County Hospital successfully achieved the Meaningful Use Stage 1 requirements, and is now in the Stage 2 attestation period, which focuses on health information exchange between providers and promotes greater patient access to their medical record through a secure portal. To put this step of the process in perspective, only 10 hospitals nationwide have successfully achieved Stage 2 attestation so far. [Meaningful Use is the CMS Medicare and Medicaid electronic health record (EHR) incentive program that is divided in three stages where "providers need to show they're using certified EHR technology in ways that can be measured significantly in quality and quantity.]

"The Most Wired data show that shared health information allows clinicians and patients to have the information they need to promote health and make the most informed decisions about treatments," said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the American Hospital Association. "Hospitals, their clinicians and their communities are doing tremendous work to enhance their IT systems in ways that support care and delivery improvement, and patient engagement goals."

Health Care's Most Wired Survey, conducted between January 15 and March 15, 2014, asked hospitals and health systems nationwide to answer questions regarding their IT initiatives. Respondents completed 680 surveys, representing 1,900 hospitals, or more than 30 percent of all U.S. hospitals.