WVU Health Groups Sign Technology Contract

$40 Million Project Will Transform Patient Care

            MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - West Virginia University Hospitals and University Health Associates have signed a $40-million contract with Epic Systems Corp., of Madison, Wis., to design and install a campus-wide health information technology system.

            "We expect this project to transform the way we deliver health care at WVU," said Ann Chinnis, M.D., executive director of the Epic project and associate dean for clinical informatics. Dr. Chinnis recently resigned as chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine in the WVU School of Medicine to oversee the project.

            "Our goal is to bring together all the information needed to provide each patient with the care he or she needs," Chinnis said. "Whether you are a patient in the hospital, or one of our clinics, or you call on the phone for assistance in understanding your bill, the person who is helping you should have access to everything needed to get you the appropriate care. Our goal is to eliminate missing pieces of the puzzles. We want our providers to have all the information they need, on all of our patients, all the time, at all of our sites of care."

            The amount of data involved in the system will be extraordinarily large. WVU physicians and other health professionals recorded more than a half-million patient visits to medical offices last year, and more than 130,000 patient-days in WVU Hospitals. Each patient can generate scores of documents in a single day, including physician reports, prescriptions, medical images such as MRIs and x-rays, laboratory reports, bills and insurance forms.

            Epic is a national leader in helping health care organizations move from a maze of computer software applications developed in specific departments and organizations to an integrated package of programs that allows data to be shared among those who have a need to use it. A high level of security and accountability will be built into the system to protect the privacy of medical records.

            The system will replace several dozen software packages in use at WVU physician offices on the Morgantown campus, at the WVU Cheat Lake Physicians office and at the WVU Harpers Ferry Family Medicine Center. It will also consolidate several systems at Ruby Memorial Hospital, WVU Children's Hospital, and Chestnut Ridge Hospital. The Eastern Panhandle affiliates of WVUH are not currently included in the plan.

            For patients, the system is expected to ease the process of accessing health care. For instance, once patients have provided medical history, insurance and other information at one WVU office, it will be available immediately if they visit another office, are treated in the Emergency Department, or need to file an insurance claim. Health professionals at all WVU locations will be able to access lab results, medical images and other health records without delay so that the patient will never have to wait for information to be gathered.

            "For all of us who work in health care at WVU, this will mean changes in how we do our work," Chinnis said. "It will require a great effort from everyone to make the transition, but the results for our patients will be spectacular."


- WVU -

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

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