September 20, 2006 11:05 ET

Medical Records Online at Kootenai Medical Center; IBM Services Improve Quality and Speed of Patient Care

COEUR D'ALENE, ID -- (MARKET WIRE) -- September 20, 2006 -- Kootenai Medical Center has selected IBM (NYSE: IBM) to upgrade its wireless physician information systems, reducing costs and boosting system up-time to 100 percent.

KMC's goal is for all patient information, physician, and administrative hospital information to be stored electronically by the end of 2007. Working with IBM, the community hospital serving 10 North Idaho counties and Western Montana has successfully deployed wireless practice management and electronic medical records applications to improve the quality and speed of patient care.

"Connected care often leads to better care," said Tom Legel, KMC's vice president of finance and information. "We believe that if clinicians have electronic access to the most current clinical information and images, they will make better decisions about a patient's care."

KMC offers a variety of patient services to 240,000 outpatients and 16,000 inpatients annually. KMC has been named among the nation's "Most Wired" and "Most Wireless" for seven consecutive years by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. The medical center has been on the forefront of technology adoption since it opened in 1966. Every staff member in the hospital uses technology to take better and more appropriate care of patients ranging from a dietician, to a housekeeper to a radiology tech, or a registered nurse.

Yet KMC recognized a need to supplement its in-house resources to successfully manage and upgrade its complex IT environment serving doctors, patients and hospital administrators. As a "Most Wired" hospital, KMC placed a large emphasis on virus interception that might otherwise impact the ability to share critical patient data via the network. At the same time, KMC needed to implement a new electronic medical records application from IBM business partner NextGen, which it planned to use in-house and offer as a secure hosted solution to other healthcare providers in its physician network.

The community hospital turned to IBM, who has successfully completed a series of upgrades to IBM System x and BladeCenter servers, IBM System Storage servers and tape drives, and Lenovo PCs and monitors. IBM also implemented a network hardware monitoring system and email virus intrusion detection system that safeguards important health data from damaging viruses and contributes to reliable system and network performance.

Today more than 170 physicians use KMC's practice management system and 22 physicians use the electronic medical records application, with more being added all the time. Physicians can easily share demographic information via the wireless applications from 50 regional medical offices. For example, if a primary care physician refers a patient to a specialist, they can easily share records through wireless radio devices or the VPN.

About Kootenai Medical Center

KMC exists to meet the healthcare needs of North Idaho through service excellence, community leadership and compassionate care. Since 1966, KMC's mission has remained steadfast: To operate a not-for-profit system that uses all revenue over expenses to improve the health of the community through patient care, education, research, and community service.

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