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Western North Carolina Health Network to Link 16 Area Hospitals to Electronically Share Critical Patient Information

IBM and AccessPt. Create the State's First Regional Health Information System

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ASHEVILLE, NC - 26 Jan 2006: Western North Carolina Health Network today launched a solution that will link 16 area hospitals together to electronically share critical patient information.

The innovative solution, which was implemented by IBM Global Services and AccessPt., is the first regional health information organization in North Carolina and one of the largest in North America. Four WNCHN hospitals, Angel Medical Center, Haywood Regional Medical Center, Rutherford Hospital and Transylvania Community Hospital, are currently connected, with a total of 16 hospitals scheduled to be linked to the system in the coming months.

This solution allows participating doctors and other authorized hospital clinicians to quickly, easily and securely access patient information over the Internet in a matter of seconds. Access to this information will allow participating hospitals to view patient records so they can more accurately and efficiently provide treatment and avoid duplication of costly tests.

"Western North Carolina is at the forefront of creating an integrated approach to healthcare," said Congressman Charles Taylor, who secured $2.5 million in federal grants to implement the project. "With 75,000 hospital visits in this region last year, this approach will result in reduced wait times, improve the accuracy and effectiveness of treatment, and help make patient care more affordable. Over time, I hope to see additional hospitals, physicians' offices and clinics integrated into the system so more and more of our residents can reap the benefits of this innovative solution."

During the first phase of the implementation, IBM and AccessPt. created a virtual electronic medical records system that will link the 16 WNCHN hospitals. The application uses adapters, developed by AccessPt., customized to the hospitals' unique systems to provide a standardized view of the data, with all patient data remaining on the member hospital's clinical information system of origin.

"We were searching for an efficient and effective way to share patient information - within each hospital and across our broad region," said David Rice, WNCHN president and CEO of Haywood Regional Medical Center. "Using IBM and AccessPt.'s solutions makes patient care more affordable by reducing overlapping tasks such as data entry and document management, which can also reduce human error."

The system will offer participating hospitals:

"Interoperability in healthcare is one of IBM's key focus areas," said Gail Gulinson, vice president of health industry, IBM Business Consulting Services. "It supports our belief that exchanging and using electronic health information between patients and consumers, among clinicians, and between the private and public health sectors is critical for the healthcare industry to achieve necessary quality and efficiency improvements."

"Privacy and security are a big area of focus for the WNCHN team," said Mike Drake, president and CEO of AccessPt."When creating the virtual electronics medical records application that runs on IBM middleware, we knew it was necessary for participating hospitals to share information in a safe and secure manner. The AccessPt. Federated Data Model approach meets those objectives."

The technical solution includes IBM WebSphere Application Server and AccessPt. healthcare portal technology. IBM will host the solution through its e-business HostingTM Services, which will provide the hub for virtual private network (VPN) connectivity between the member hospitals. VPN will serve as the gateway to the member hospitals' clinical information systems.

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