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Posted July 20, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Magazine names hospital as one of most 'wired' in nation

Marke Dye, medical technologist and point-of-care specialist
Marke Dye, medical technologist and point-of-care specialist at Shenandoah Memorial, holds an I-STAT machine that analyzes blood chemistry. The machine eliminates the need to send samples to the lab. Rich Cooley/Daily

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By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- You could say Shenandoah Memorial Hospital is wired for sound practices.

The Woodstock hospital was recently named as one of the nation's most "wired" small or rural hospitals by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine, the American Hospital Association's journal. It was the only Virginia hospital in that category to make the list, according to a news release from the hospital.

"We're thrilled about it," SMH President Floyd Heater said Wednesday afternoon. "This is our second year in a row. It's something that we worked real hard at the last two or three years, to get more wired, to really try to put new technology into place to try to improve patient care, improve safety. Our medical staff, our employees are just to be commended for it. I think there's more to come."

Information technology can put some safety nets into patient care, reducing human error, he said.

"There's built-in safeguards when you're ordering
medicines or treatments or tests of any kind on a patient," Heater said. "There's established medical standards and practices built into the system that are kind of geared upon national norms. It's there as an important check and balance for the pharmacist, the nurses and the physician."

According to the news release, the hospital adopted computerized provider order entry and bar-coded medication management in the past two years. All clinical lab tests have been bar-coded, and there are plans to install a digital method for "storing and authorized sharing of medical imaging tests," it says.

"In addition to this award being a testament to patient safety, this type of technology implementation will ultimately reduce costs," says Valley Health Chief Information Officer Joan Roscoe in the release. "All of this is very timely with the current economic downturn and the government's stimulus plan to streamline healthcare."

Every hospital in the country was offered the survey, said Alden Solovy, editor of Hospitals & Health Networks, and 159 rural and small hospitals participated. He said the survey has been around 11 years.

"The use of information technology among hospitals supports a variety of goals," Solovy said. "It supports patient care, i.e., safety and quality. It supports good business practices. It supports customer service. [It] can drive a wide variety of important strategies and important goals for a hospital."

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