January 2004

New Clinical Information System Implemented at Five Market-based Organizations


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A new clinical information system, launched at five Catholic Health Initiatives market-based organizations in October 2003, is revolutionizing how patient information is stored, used and accessed.

Advanced Clinical Information System (ACIS) enables these market-based organizations to move over time toward a computerized patient record that supports electronic medication administration, computer-based physician order entry (CPOE), and clinical tools that aid in decision-making. Used in many hospitals nationwide, ACIS is comprised of hardware, software, applications and infrastructure that provide a framework for storing and networking advanced clinical and patient information. Catholic Health Initiatives selected Cerner as its vendor for ACIS after a thorough proposal process.

Collectively, the five selected market-based organizations care for nearly 50 percent of Catholic Health Initiatives’ total patient population. They include St. Vincent Health System, Little Rock, Ark.; Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines, Iowa; Franciscan Health System, Tacoma, Wash.; Saint Joseph HealthCare, Lexington, Ky.; and St. John’s Regional Medical Center, Joplin, Mo.

“The decision to implement ACIS was made after extensive analysis of the benefits as well as the risks,” said Harold E. Ray, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer for Catholic Health Initiatives. “ACIS will combine information from the bedside, laboratory, pharmacy, nurse’s station, emergency department and scheduling to create a comprehensive and thorough clinical tool that will enhance patient safety. It will ensure health care professionals — regardless of discipline, time of day or location — will have the ability to access necessary information to make good clinical decisions.”

ACIS provides immediate data regarding patient status and clinical test results, enabling quicker responses and more informed decision-making. ACIS assists in compliance with industry regulations and meeting the requirements of national groups that examine patient safety. ACIS helps reduce morbidity associated with adverse effects and medical errors by advising clinicians of drug, allergy or dosage recommendations. Clinicians can quickly access information about patients’ previous visits and their medical histories, including diagnosis, orders, results, documentation and disposition. The streamlined communication reduces length of stay, time to diagnose and patient frustration with redundant questioning and increases patient confidence.

“ACIS directly supports our core strategy of quality,” Ray said. “This helps us fulfill Catholic Health Initiatives’ goal to be the recognized leader in quality, safety and customer service. It reinforces our core value of excellence and putting forth our personal and professional best for the patients we serve.”

Eventually, ACIS will enable physicians to manage orders electronically, including order entry, order processing, order inquiry and electronic signature (approval). Physician decision-making will be augmented by clinical decision support and alerts to clinically significant results. Medical errors associated with poor order legibility and transcription of written orders will be eliminated. In addition, the time between order submission and actual administration of medications will be markedly reduced, providing for better patient care.

Full implementation of ACIS will take up to five years. The five initial market-based organizations will implement various applications at different times. Multi-disciplinary teams are already working to customize the system for their market-based organizations, and clinicians will be asked to provide feedback on design prototypes.

For more information, contact Rick Turner, MD, vice president,clinical information systems, at 303/383-2644 or rickturner@catholichealth.net.