RCHI Partner in Hospital Information Technology Grant

December 6, 2004

The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center’s Rural Community Health Institute (RCHI) is participating in a three-year project involving Palo Pinto General Hospital in Mineral Wells, Texas. The $1.5 million project, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)’s Agency for Health Research and Quality, is titled Rural Hospital Collaborative for Excellence Using Information Technology.
Palo Pinto General Hospital is the lead investigative partner in the project, which also involves collaboration with Baylor Health Care System, the Texas Medical Foundation and Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council (DFWHC). Patricia Dorris, R.N., M.P.H., chief executive officer of Palo Pinto Hospital, was the applicant and is the principal investigator for the grant. Josie Williams, M.D., director of RCHI, will serve as co-director and investigator for the project and as the A&M System Health Science Center’s representative in the project. Dr. David Ballard, of Baylor Health Care System, will serve as co-director of the project and be responsible for project evaluation.
On December 9, 2004, officials from RCHI, DFWHC and Palo Pinto General Hospital will meet at the hospital, located at 400 Southwest 25th Avenue in Mineral Wells, to begin assessing the information technology requirements for this project. A media opportunity time of 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. has been scheduled. Representatives from each of the partners in the project will be available at that time for questions. The group will then meet from 3 to 5 p.m.
Dr. Josie Williams notes that the focus of this study will be to implement quality improvement electronic tools to enhance information technology, allowing hospitals to better track, understand, evaluate and improve standards of care. These tools should help achieve improvements in quality of health care and better patient safety. “The measurements we will look at are directly related to performance of the hospital on specific quality indicators,” she said. “Until hospitals begin to measure specific indicators relating to particular health issues, they cannot know how well they are doing. Only with good measurement of these indicators can any potential problems be addressed effectively.” Examples of the kind of indicators the project will measure include whether a pneumonia patient has received antibiotics within four hours, or whether an incipient heart attack patient has been given aspirin, or considered for specialized drugs after consultation with a cardiologist.
The overall objective of this project, as stated in its official description, is to implement advanced information technology and standards of care in rural and small community hospitals throughout the state of Texas to increase patient safety and quality of care. Specific project aims include implementation of web-based business intelligence tools, Internet connectivity, and standardized national measures of patient safety and quality to improve delivery of care; implementation of advanced technology with an enriching educational intervention to support a committed patient safety and quality culture; and conducting a randomized trial to evaluate technology and the incremental effects of an educational intervention on patient safety and quality.

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