For the eighth time, Palmetto Health is being recognized as one of the “Most Wired” organizations by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. Palmetto Health is one of only eight “Most Wired” organizations in South Carolina. Palmetto Health previously won the award in 2003, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

As the nation’s health care system transitions to more integrated and patient-centered care, hospitals are utilizing information technology to better connect health care providers, according to the 17th annual Health Care’s Most Wired Survey, conducted by Hospitals & Health Networks.

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer Michelle Edwards is honored that Palmetto Health is listed once again, especially with all the challenges facing health care today. “Our team is involved in so many important system-wide initiatives, including implementing a population health management strategy, meeting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Meaningful Use requirements for electronic health records for our hospitals and eligible providers, implementing ICD-10 coding of medical diagnoses and hospital procedures, designing the IT systems for the new Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, enhancing the revenue cycle, creating a strategy for data analytics, and supporting critical patient safety and clinical quality initiatives. With so many priorities, it’s important for us to remain focused on the value IT brings to our organization, our care providers and, ultimately, our patients.”

According to the survey, hospitals are taking more aggressive privacy and security measures to protect and safeguard patient data. Top growth areas in security among this year’s Most Wired organizations include privacy audit systems, provisioning systems, data loss prevention, single sign-on and identity management. The survey also found:

96 percent of Most Wired organizations use intrusion detection systems compared to 85 percent of the all respondents. Privacy audit systems (94 percent) and security incident event management (93 percent) are also widely used.

79 percent of Most Wired organizations conduct incident response exercises or tabletop tests annually, a high-level estimate of the current potential for success of a cybersecurity incident response plan, compared to 37 percent of all responding hospitals.

83 percent of Most Wired organizations report that hospital board oversight of risk management and reduction includes cybersecurity risk.

“With the rising number of patient data breaches and cybersecurity attacks threatening the healthcare industry, protecting patient health information is a top priority for hospital customers,” said Frank Nydam, senior sirector of Healthcare at VMware. “Coupled with the incredible technology innovation taking place today, healthcare organizations need to have security as a foundational component of their mobility, cloud and networking strategy and incorporated into the very fabric of the organization.”

As hospitals and health systems begin to transition away from volume-based care to more integrated, value-based care delivery, hospitals are utilizing IT to better facilitate information exchange across the care settings. This includes greater alignment between hospitals and physicians. According to the survey, the physician portal is a key factor in strengthening physician-hospital alignment:

In 84 percent of Most Wired organizations, physicians can view and exchange other facilities’ results in the portal compared with 63 percent of hospitals surveyed.

76 percent use the portal and electronic health record (EHR) to exchange results with other EHRs and health information exchanges compared to 56 percent of those surveyed.

81 percent can communicate with patients via email or alerts in contrast to 63 percent of all respondents.

Driven beyond the requirements of Meaningful Use Stage 2, this year’s Most Wired hospitals are utilizing the benefits of a patient portal to get patients actively involved in their health and healthcare. For instance, 89 percent of Most Wired organizations offer access to the patient portal through a mobile application. Other key findings include:

67 percent of Most Wired hospitals offer the ability to incorporate patient-generated data.

63 percent offer self-management tools for chronic conditions.

60 percent offer patient-specific education in multiple languages.

“We commend and congratulate this year’s Most Wired hospitals and their CIOs for improving care delivery and outcomes in our nation’s hospitals through their creative and revolutionary uses of technology,” said CHIME CEO and President Russell P. Branzell, FCHIME CHCIO. “These Most Wired organizations represent excellence in IT leadership on the frontlines of healthcare transformation.”

“Congratulations to our nation’s Most Wired hospitals for harnessing the potential of information technology to improve quality care and patient safety and lower health care costs,” said Rich Umbdenstock, president and CEO of the AHA. “At the forefront of the field, these hospitals are setting the bar for protection of patient data through discerning security measures.”

HealthCare’s Most Wired Survey, conducted between Jan. 15 and March 15, 2015, is published annually by Health & Hospitals Network. Respondents completed 741 surveys, representing more than 39 percent of all U.S. hospitals. Last October, the AHA/Health Forum and CHIME announced the formation of a Most Wired partnership to enhance collaboration between the two organizations in the development and sustainability of the survey, and to collectively help meet the growing demand for useful data on health IT integration.

Detailed results of the survey and study can be found in the July issue of H&HN. For a full list of winners, visit www.hhnmag.com.