Three-peat: Patient-friendly tech innovations keep UTSW among nation’s ‘Most Wired’ hospitals

By Patrick Wascovich

Patient-focused technological innovations at UT Southwestern Medical Center helped the institution receive national recognition as one of the “Most Wired” hospitals in the U.S. for the third consecutive year.

UT Southwestern earned a place on the “Most Wired” list, which is distributed annually by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the flagship publication of the American Hospital Association.

“This honor recognizes our continuous commitment to leveraging technology to provide the best care possible to our patients,” said Dr. Bruce Meyer, Executive Vice President for Health System Affairs.

In all, 289 organizations across the country made the 2013 list. To compile its “Most Wired” recognitions, Hospitals & Health Networks evaluated hospitals on information technology in four areas: infrastructure, business/administrative management, clinical quality/safety, and clinical integration. Children’s Medical Center Dallas, which is affiliated with UT Southwestern as a pediatric teaching hospital, also was recognized as a “Most Wired” institution.

UT Southwestern has been a leader in applying new technology designed to enhance the patient’s experience. This includes becoming the first health care facility in North Texas to switch to electronic medical records, an effort that began more than a decade ago.

This commitment was driven by a 2002 gift from an anonymous donor, who challenged the university to develop an information technology infrastructure that would augment the quality of care provided to patients. Additional donations ensured that this infrastructure was used to drive patient-centric innovation and improvement.

In 2005, the medical center introduced the electronic portal MyChart for patients to access their health records. More than 50,000 UT Southwestern patients use MyChart to pose questions to physicians, schedule appointments, and refill prescriptions over encrypted, secure connections.

MyChart has become more accessible with a free app now available for iPhone, iPad, and Android users. The MyChart app fits a phone screen without altering the site’s functionality. The app helps patients take an active role in their health care by making their information easy to access.

“The iPhone app puts a patient’s record – complete with medication, test results, and the ability to communicate with a doctor – in the patient's pocket,” said Suresh Gunasekaran, Associate Vice President for Health System Information Resources. “We also now have the ability for patients to pay their bill online. Overall, our technology advances continue to center on improving the patient experience and helping patients better manage their own care by staying more easily connected to the providers at UT Southwestern.”

Physicians also are able to access electronic medical records on their iPads, a patient-centered innovation that keeps caregivers at the bedside. Another technological improvement, an online performance management portal for physicians, helps UT Southwestern fulfill its unique role as an academic medical center immersed in both world-class research and nationally recognized patient care.