Here's a story
in the Cincinnati Business Courier about how Cincinnati area hospitals
are adopting IT. The hospital's focus is on patient safety and improved
patient care.

Over the next four years Mercy will spend $37 million on a plan it
calls "clinical informatics": $23 million for clinical applications and
$14 million for technology infrastructure and equipment.

Among the initiatives under way or planned at Mercy [Health Partners] and other hospital systems in the area:

  • Bar-coded medication administration, in which patients' wristbands must match their medication before the drug is given.
  • Digitized radiology, which allows radiologists to more easily rotate
    and compare images and makes them accessible throughout the hospital or
    even from physicians' home computers.
  • Electronic clinical
    documentation, in which nurses and other medical workers, such as
    respiratory therapists, make notes about their patients in digital
  • Electronic physician orders, where doctors enter instructions for laboratory work or medications, by computer.

Mercy Health Partners has three hospitals in the Cincinnati area
totaling 444 beds. Even for a 3 hospital system, $37 million is a lot
of cash. Mercy's most recent net income (as reported here)
is 5.13, (0.86) and 0.37 percent - good performance, but not
outstanding. I wonder what they're giving up capital budget wise to
make this IT investment? I also wonder what planning they've done to
integrate medical devices into their IT plans. If they're like most
hospitals, the average age of their medical devices is 5 to 8 years,
old enough to make integration with an EMR expensive indeed (unless
they use secret techniques known only to the cabal of connectologists).

[Hat tip: iHealthBeat]