IBM and BlueWare Help West Branch Medical Center Improve Patient Care with Electronic Health Management Solution

On Demand Solution Enables Real-Time Access to Patient Data

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SOMERS, N.Y. - 16 Feb 2005: IBM and BlueWare today announced that West Branch Regional Medical Center, a flagship hospital of Northern Michigan Health, has transformed its patient care operations into an electronic based system by digitizing all of its patient care records. As a result, the hospital has saved more than $50,000 in the first six months and administrative staff inefficiency has been slashed by as much as 40 percent.
 
Inefficiencies also existed within the organization's accounts payable department, as billing was delayed while staff awaited paper-based medical records. Since the implementation of the information management system, the accounts receivable days have dropped from 90 days to 60 days.

The integrated IBM and BlueWare solution, has replaced the hospital's existing paper-based patient records into an electronic format that enables authorized physicians and nurses to gain real-time access to historical patient data, such as digital access to x-rays and other medical lab results. Now medical personnel can respond more rapidly to patient requirements by having access to the patient's medical history instantaneously.

In the past, physicians spent too much time locating information on paper-based patient charts, such as the patient's medical history, medication prescribed to the patient for treatment and the medical test results. The process of manually locating this data delayed patient assistance and care process. The new electronic health medical records solution provides doctors with more real-time access to patient history and is also helping flag potential patient safety problems, such as medication allergies and interactions, before a patient suffers harm or potential death due to delayed access of information on patient history.

Reducing healthcare cost and improving patient care by adopting digital technology systems for handling patient records is outlined as a major priority for President Bush's 2006 budget and agenda. The administration plans to solicit $125 million in funds for IT-related health projects. Recognizing that healthcare industry has diverse needs based on today's regulatory environment, IBM is working with several ISVs such as BlueWare so they can capitalize on a wide range of resources to more effectively develop customized solutions that meet the healthcare industry requirements.

BlueWare, a Michigan-based solution provider specializing in electronic health-management solutions, is an ISV Advantage partner and part of IBM's PartnerWorld Industry Networks for Healthcare. This is one of IBM's primary initiatives designed to provide business partners with go-to-market sales support and technical resources specifically tailored to meet customer needs industry by industry. BlueWare is also a winner of the PartnerWorld Beacon Awards 2005 competition, which honors IBM Business Partners for their ingenuity, customer satisfaction and outstanding achievements in providing On Demand Business solutions. Nearly 600 nominations are judged by a team of leading industry journalists, analysts, and IBM executives, who selected winners in 31 award categories.

Based on IBM DB2 Content Manager software and IBM eServer iSeries, the Wellness Connection solution provides the physicians and nurses with an integrated suite of applications that manage and digitally store patient data and offer remote access of patient data to authorized physicians. The new solution is built on a non-proprietary IT infrastructure.

"Patients undergoing tests and treatment often move among the various facilities we cover within the hospital and the medical records wouldn't immediately follow," explains Randy Lewis, Information Systems Director, West Branch Regional Medical Center. "This made it difficult for physicians to access information, and as a result, the potential existed for treatment to be delayed or tests repeated. Now, with the help of the IBM and BlueWare solution, we have been able to transform the hospital's operations into an on demand system that allows authorized staff to access all patient data in real-time and enables clinicians to deliver the highest quality of patient care," said Lewis.

Patient safety has also become a prime directive nationwide and healthcare consumers are seeking facilities where they feel that their information is secure. With the new solution, patient safety has improved significantly due to new caregiver access to the patient's history which can only be viewed by authorized users. Consumers also demand efficiency and speed of care, particularly in the emergency room, and Wellness Connection is now helping address those issues effectively as well. The new solution has enabled the hospital to comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) rules and regulations focused on improved patient privacy.

"Working with IBM was extremely helpful in bringing West Branch Medical Center on board," said Rose Harr, CEO, BlueWare. "Access to IBM's technical resources through PartnerWorld Industry Networks program enabled us to develop an open and secure electronic medical records solution that allowed West Branch Medical Center to improve physician efficiency. Our customers recognize the value we bring to them through our relationship with IBM and our relationship with IBM is helping us sell solutions with increasing success into the on demand world of healthcare."

As part of the PartnerWorld Industry Networks initiative, ISVs work with IBM to port their applications to IBM's open infrastructure, with a special focus on developing industry specific solutions. The PartnerWorld Industry Networks also provide rich marketing and sales tools to support ISVs in generating and closing industry opportunities.

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