Catholic Healthcare West said late last week it would invest $137 million during the next eight years in a healthcare information technology and workflow improvement initiative aimed at improving patient safety throughout the San Francisco-based system of 41 hospitals in three states.
Technologies integrated into the hospitals will be designed to improve efficiency of care, enhance clinical decisions and reduce medication errors. The healthcare system said it will work with Cerner Corp. and Perot Systems during the next year to develop a clinical information system integrating emergency department, intensive-care, laboratory, pharmacy and radiology workflow.
The technology will be implemented first at three California hospitals: Dominican Hospital, Santa Cruz; and St. Francis Memorial Hospital and St. Mary's Medical Center, both in San Francisco. The clinical system will be rolled out to its other hospitals in Arizona, California and Nevada during the next seven years. Included among the IT capabilities will be computerized physician order entry, clinical decision support, computerized rules to prevent adverse drug events and interfaces with medical devices at the bedside.
The steep investment represents "a conscious decision to invest in technology that will benefit both patients and clinicians," said Michael O'Rourke, CHW's chief information officer. "This technology will enhance patient safety and reduce the amount of paperwork for clinicians, giving them more time to devote to patient care."
The multiple-year project is another example of an emerging trend toward comprehensive computerization of the care process at large healthcare systems. Last month, Baylor Health Care System unveiled a $119 million, seven-year initiative to reorganize care processes and use technology to make clinical improvements at its 11 hospitals, 69 clinics and numerous physician practices in Dallas and the surrounding area (Jan. 12, p. 17).