Is NMC’s Use of Information Technology Advancing Patient Care?

Yes!  That is clearly the goal but it is a major transition to undergo.  NMC is using information technology to advance the quality of patient care, both within the hospital and within outpatient settings, including provider offices.  Strong, integrated systems allow those providing patient care the access to the information they need in a timely, efficient manner.  Even as our efforts to improve our systems continue, I was very proud that our current efforts earned NMC status as one of the country’s “Most Wired” hospitals, a high honor from the American Hospital Association’s Health Forum!  This is wonderful recognition for our staff in Information Systems and the entire organization, as all of our physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, and hospital staff share in the use, refinement, and improvement of our systems.  Earning national recognition for our efforts is quite an accomplishment and I appreciate their ongoing efforts to make our systems even more integrated. 

When speaking of the recent award, Joel Benware, NMC’s Vice President for Information Systems and Compliance, said, “This is recognition of our strategic planning efforts and that we are headed in the right direction,” said Benware. “Health Information Technology is a constant evolution of connecting patients with their healthcare so that each can make informed choices about their own personal wellness.”

Here are some of the recent advances at NMC which contributed to earning ‘Most Wired’ status:

  • NMC patient portals have become an integral part of the patient care experience at NMC, for inpatients and outpatients. Through the portal, patients become personally engaged in their care. They are able to review labs results, and communicate with providers about their progress towards healthcare goals. For more information on NMC’s patient portals, visit: https://www.northwesternmedicalcenter.org/patients-visitors/patient-portal/
  • To ensure patients receive the most appropriate and timely care, NMC is using predictive modeling to eliminate preventable problems. In 2016, NMC created a new Information Systems division dedicated to data analytics. This division helps identify causes or trends of readmission to help patients recover at home without the risks of complications. NMC continues to maintain impressively low infection rates through continued review and analysis of trends and risks.
  • Data analytics are being used at NMC to provide exceptional care and let physicians monitor their performance. Putting key information in the hands of providers allows them to see what they are doing well and where they can improve.
  • NMC has implemented a new Nurse Call system, replacing an outdated phone-based system with a computerized system that will become fully integrated with our phone system, and Electronic Health Record. The new system will provide for improved reporting and patient room status, including visual cues for patients at risk for falls, or with special dietary needs, improving patient safety and the efficiency with which staff can respond to a patient’s needs.

Joel summed up NMC’s approach beautifully when he said: “We don’t see technology as a separate tool; rather as an integrated component of the culture.  Continuous efforts are underway to remove manual processes, reduce paper and turn complex steps into more streamlined workflows.”  In today’s world, the provision of exceptional care demands exceptional information systems and it is wonderful to see NMC’s efforts honored at the national level.  I am excited to see where our talented team of technology and system experts and our providers and staff can take us next in the strategic use of information to further connect care across our community!

— Jill Berry Bowen, NMC’s Chief Executive Officer