Hospitals that invest in health information technology (HIT) have better outcomes, better risk-adjusted mortality rates, and higher patient satisfaction scores than other hospitals that do not make such investments, according to a recent survey.

Interestingly, the researchers did not establish a direct causal relationship between technology and outcomes. Instead, investment in information technology accompanies other hospital efforts to improve processes and patient care, explained Lydon Neumann, senior executive at Accenture LLC , a consulting firm that assisted in the survey, the Most Wired Survey and Benchmarking Study.

“Most wired hospitals excel in many ways but a strong investment in and commitment to information technology are characteristic of leaders who are looking at all of the elements needed to be a high-performing organization,” Neumann explained.

Hospitals & Health Networks magazine , the journal of the American Hospital Association, in Chicago, has done the survey annually for 10 years. HHN uses the results to name the 100 most wired hospitals and health systems. This year, 556 hospitals and health systems completed the survey, representing 1,327 hospitals.

HHN conducted the survey in cooperation with Accenture, McKesson Corp., and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. For the survey, hospitals report on how they use information technology to address five key areas:

1. Safety and quality

2. Customer service

3. Business processes

4. Workforce, and

5. Public health and safety.

“Quality and satisfaction are often tied to key initiatives and goals that hospitals are striving toward through the use of technology and process improvement,” explained Merrie Wallace, R.N., vice president and solution line manager for McKesson Provider Technologies. “The most successful hospitals use technology as part of an overall strategy and achieve significant results. Those that just deploy technology for technology’s sake don’t see these types of results.”

Only six institutions have earned the designation “most wired” every year for the 10 years that the magazine has done the survey. They are:

1. Avera Health, Sioux Falls, S.D.

2. Hackensack (N.J.) University Medical Center

3. MeritCare Health System, Fargo, N.D.

4. Partners HealthCare, Boston

5. Sharp HealthCare, San Diego

6. University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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