Chinnis to Lead Information System Team

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Ann Chinnis, M.D., chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the WVU School of Medicine, has been appointed to lead the implementation team for a new campus-wide information system that will be jointly established by WVU Hospitals and University Health Associates. She will serve as executive director of the project for both groups and associate dean for clinical informatics in the School.

"This project represents the single greatest opportunity that WVUH and UHA have to offer our patients safer and better coordinated care," Dr. Chinnis said. "This is not a 'computer project.' This is a challenge to every one of us who takes care of patients. We will be asked to figure out how to re-design all our interactions with our patients  so that our patients receive the most cutting edge care and the finest service. Once we figure that out how that should happen, then the information system can enable those processes. This really is about completely revisiting the patient experience throughout our clinics and hospitals. Our new information system will transform both the clinical processes and the operational and business aspects of both organizations. Everyone who works in UHA and WVUH will be touched by this organizational transformation."

"Dr. Chinnis is an energetic and proven leader, and everyone in the School, UHA and WVUH realizes that the transformation of our clinical and business processes will require determined leadership," said Jeff Neely, M.D., president of University Health Associates. "She has shown that she can manage change, motivate faculty and staff to greater accomplishment, and keep a cool head when things get difficult. This may be the greatest challenge we could hand to her."

Chinnis will step down as chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine effective July 1. During her tenure which began in June of 1999, the department has expanded its teaching, research and clinical activities, including assuming responsibility for managing the emergency department at United Hospital Center in Clarksburg. The Department has doubled its number of faculty since that time and now is responsible for 82,000 patient visits. The emergency medicine residency program has been approved to expand effective this year. WVU residents and faculty are active participants on the WVUH stroke team and contributed to sucessfull accredidation of WVUH as a designated stroke center. They also have achieved national recognition in the area of pre-hospital stroke research.

Also on the leadership team will be Kevin Halbritter, M.D., WVUH vice president for medical affairs; Kimberly Clarke, director, UHA/WVUH information technology, Mary Lynn Withrow, R.N., director of care management for WVUH and Claudia Wilhelm, R.N., project director in the School of Medicine/Health Sciences Center.

"This implementation is by far the most significant joint effort ever undertaken by UHA and WVU Hospitals," said Bruce McClymonds, WVUH president. The project will cost tens of millions to install over the over the next several years.  "We are making this significant investment because we know it will enable our physicians and staff to deliver better, safer care," he added.

Patients will benefit most from this conversion. Their medical records, insurance information and billing data will be accessible from everywhere on campus - and, in some cases, from anywhere they can access the Internet -- improving patient safety, reducing confusing and repetitive information entry, and eliminating delays due to missing or incomplete records. Powerful safeguards will be in place to assure that patient data is available only to those involved in the individual's care. Physicians, other healthcare professionals, and staff will benefit from improved access to information. With 24/7 access to all patient electronic medical records and financial records, providers and staff will have what they need, when they need it.

"We expect to be among a handful of national leaders in health information in just a few years," Chinnis said. "That will support our campus-wide goal of bringing WVU into a leadership position in heath care and medical education."

- WVU -

For more information:
Bill Case, HSC News Service, (304) 293-7087

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