GLENVIEW — Nurse Gayle Urbanczyk reached out and gave the blue-glowing Jetson a buddy pat on the computer monitor.
A big laptop on wheels, Jetson — yes, named after the futuristic television cartoon — stores patient data for instant retrieval and sharing among caregivers at Evanston Hospital of the NorthShore University HealthSystem.
“We have a Jetson in each intensive care room, here. We’re paperless because of these electronic patient charts,” said Urbansczyk of Northbrook.
“We were one of the first hospitals to adopt electronic medical records.”
This year, Hospitals & Health Networks magazine again recognized NorthShore University HealthSystem as one of the nation’s “Most Wired” hospitals for the tenth consecutive year.
According to the magazine’s survey, the hospitals and health systems “focused on adopting (health information technology) that protects patient data and optimizes patient flow and communications.”
Headquartered in Evanston, NorthShore is an integrated healthcare system serving metropolitan Chicago with hospitals in Glenview, Highland Park and Skokie.
The national survey also covered new areas, such as data analytics and patient-generated data, projects that NorthShore have jumped on.
Doctor Kenneth Anderson, chief medical quality officer at NorthShore, said while electronic medical records were not new innovations, how doctors and researchers use the data to benefit patients was a developing field and underway at his hospitals.
“Patient information goes into what we call key buckets or data marts where we do deeper analysis.
“We ask questions about it and merge medical information about an individual patient,” he said.
The patient data marts also provide doctors with reminders on medical best practice alerts should an at-risk patient seek care.
For example, leg clots can break free and settle into a lung, which can be disabling, Anderson said.
“Instead, we can recognize the risk and send alerts to the doctor with information about medications and mechanical methods for treatment, such as compression leg stockings for clots,” he said.
Another area for using deep patient data and mathematical modeling was in preventing patient readmissions to hospitals.
“All we know about past patients is compared to the current data that address factors in which a patient maybe at risk for heart failure, for instance,” said Anderson, a Wilmette resident.
The national figure, he explained, for heart failure patients returning to hospitals within 30 days was one in three.
Before NorthShore used data modeling, the rate was one in four, whereas now it was down to one in six.
Earlier this year, NorthShore hospitals also were named Innovator of the Year by Healthcare Informatics magazine for the early diagnosing of hypertension leading to high blood pressure.
Anderson said when patients visit different doctors in cardiology, primary care and for colonoscopies, for instance, their blood pressures were taken.
“When you put all the information on electronic medical records we can pull out that data on patients and check for elevated blood pressures,” Anderson said, adding the data is electronically stored on NorthShore’s enterprise data warehouse.
By continuously monitoring the information and using computer algorithms, NorthShore can identify one’s likelihood of hypertension and notify primary care doctors.
“We recognized more patients and treated them for high blood pressures and reduced risk of heath attacks, strokes and deaths.”
Currently, NorthShore is finding 25-30 more patients per month with hypertension and high blood pressures.
“It’s having a big impact on the community’s health,” Anderson said.
Other uses of the enterprise data warehouse were for identifying diabetes, associated with kidney failure, blindness and hearth disease.
Anderson said when patients leave NorthShore, other healthcare facilities have access to their medical data.
“And patients have a conduit or channel to ask our doctors questions. They still feel connected.”
The Most Wired survey was conducted Jan. 15 to March 15 and asked hospitals and health systems to answer questions on their information technology initiatives.
Respondents completed 659 surveys, representing 1,713 hospitals or roughly 30 percent of all U.S. hospitals.