Valley Health makes Most Wired list

With an array of new developments on the horizon, Valley Health made Hospitals & Health Networks’ 2015 HealthCare Most Wired list in July, the first time it’s made the list since 2006.

Interim CIO Jim Burton attributes the recognition to the leadership and direction of President and CEO Mark Merrill and the switch over to the EpicCare electronic health record system from their previous McKesson system. Merrill led the switch two years ago, which Burton said was made smoothly and effectively.

“The speed in which it was put in was amazing, and the quality and the customer satisfaction afterwards was very high,” he said. “Epic is really the best in its class. It’s really the one-stop shopping of care for the customer.”

Among its many functions, EpicCare allows patients and their families ready access to records, results and other information through MyChart and bedside education about diagnoses.

“[Patients] really have the ability to control their own destiny … and Epic is especially good at that,” Burton said.

Valley Health is among 338 other health organizations around the country that met a four-part qualifying IT rubric set forth by Hospitals & Health Networks. The four areas of focus were infrastructure, business and administrative management, clinical quality and safety and clinical integration.

Burton said that the world of health IT has changed drastically since Valley Health repeatedly made the list from 1999 to 2006.

“It was a different time then,” he said. “It got much more stringent; this year it’s a lot harder.”

Since 2006, Shenandoah Memorial Hospital in Woodstock made the Most Wired list for small and rural hospitals because of its ventures into new horizons of IT at the time. Now, Burton said new systems are implemented across the board.

“I would say that we now consider all the hospitals a testing ground,” he said. “All are equally technologically capable. We try to make sure of that, whether it’s a small hospital or a large one.”

According to Burton, Valley Health has a few plans in store to maintain both excellence in IT and a spot on the notorious Most Wired list.

Within the next year, its hospitals will take advantage of using Fuji systems to enhance the image quality of results like those from X-ray and MRI scans, thus helping with diagnosis.

Valley Health will also look at fleshing out its EpicCare system by optimizing current processes and including some new projects. For example, Burton described a possible kiosk system of check-in where patients and their families can expedite the process by entering information themselves.

The largest upcoming project for Valley Health is Winchester Medical Center’s Cancer Center, projected to open in 2016.

Valley Health began a capital campaign last year to take in donations toward a $10 million goal and held a celebratory groundbreaking event for the center in May. Still in the construction process, Valley Health planned two beam-signing events for donors and the public on Thursday and Friday. During the Thursday evening event, Merrill updated donors on the status of the center.

Although Burton has been with Valley Health for around nine months, he said he’s impressed with the “special sauce” only found with Valley Health’s employees and the support given to the organization.

“Raising that money and having bootstrap support from the ground community to do it is pretty incredible,” he said.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or