California's Sutter Health Network on Thursday announced plans to spend $1.2 billion on information technology during the next 10 years, the Contra Costa Times reports. The not-for-profit health system, which includes 26 hospitals and nine physician groups, plans to create a patient database, an electronic medical records system, electronic systems for recording prescription and laboratory information, as well as an electronic archive for digital pictures such as X-rays and CT scans (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 4/23).
Sutter plans to deploy the $100 million EMR system throughout its hospitals in the next six years. It also will implement a $50 million electronic prescription transmission system, which can host software that allows patients to access their medical records from home. Sutter will invest more than $10 million in a picture archival communications system (Sutter Health press release, 4/22).
The technology will enable medical personnel to access patient records from anywhere in the Sutter system, said John Hummel, Sutter's CIO. Hummel said electronic systems should reduce medical errors, save time and money.
Sutter for the past few years has increased its annual IT investments, from $60 million in 2001 to $72 million in 2002, but Hummel said it was difficult to plan ahead when dealing with only a yearly budget. Under the 10-year initiative, Sutter will now spend about $112 million each year on IT (Contra Costa Times, 4/23).
Sutter in 2002 announced a $50 million project intended to improve patient safety technology at its hospitals, including a bar code system for medication delivery and an intensive care unit remote monitoring system (iHealthBeat, 8/13/2002).