February 4, 2010 By Russell Nichols
If state and local governments need proof that strategic partnerships can attract federal funding for smart technology, public officials might want to examine two community hospitals in a rural strip of northern Ohio.
Supported by federal stimulus funds, Fisher-Titus Medical Center in Norwalk, Ohio, and Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton, Ohio, plan to implement Cerner health-care technology systems in the next 10 months, a move that would put the two organizations among the first all-digital, smart hospitals in the nation.
These independent hospitals have been partnering for years, but this advanced automated technology, set to go live in April, would create an infrastructure that could eventually build a connected health network.
"From a patient perspective, we wanted to move toward a comprehensive, integrated solution," said John Britton, vice president of Information Services at Fisher-Titus and CIO consultant at Magruder.
The push for patients to participate in the care process echoes the latest efforts made by state and local governments to involve the public more in the government process. In the past few years, citizen demand has driven governments to publish public data sets, and community feedback has fueled innovation contests like Washington, D.C.'s Apps for Democracy.
"One of the things that we were so proud of when [we] launched Data.gov was how many state and local governments replicated the model," Federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra said in December as he unveiled the Open Government Directive. "We see this as a key pillar of public-sector work -- not just within the Obama administration. ... We think, we hope, this will be a helpful tool in support of state and local entrepreneurial activities to promote open government."
E-government scores remain at an all-time high. But 90 percent of state comptrollers reported that individual state agencies indentified the federal grant opportunities with no centralized support, according to the 2009 State Comptrollers Survey. At a time when U.S. hospitals are making critical upgrades to health IT systems, Fisher-Titus and Magruder demonstrate how technology can be used to serve people and collaboration can help organizations receive optimal funding support.
In the two community hospitals in Ohio, all rooms will be private, and the patient care systems will be fully digital. To put vital information in the hands of the patient, the Cerner Smart Room has four major components:
Similarly, with the government 2.0 movement, citizens have access to public data and can use it to create new shared applications. The new nonprofit, Code for America, seeks to build Web 2.0 solutions for local governments to allow citizens to create their own data. The idea is that through technology and online applications, policymakers can interact with the citizens they serve; the move toward a fully digital hospital reflects the