Boulder Community Health (BCH) has earned national recognition for utilizing
information technology to improve patient care and safety during the coronavirus pandemic.
In early October, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives
(CHIME) announced that BCH earned “Most Wired” designations
for both Foothills Hospital and its physician clinics.
A total of 30,135 organizations were represented in the 2020 Digital Health
Most Wired program, which scores hospitals and clinics in eight major
areas. The surveys assessed the adoption, integration and impact of technologies
in healthcare organizations at all stages of development, from early development
to industry leading.
“The Most Wired program elevates the medical care and the health
of communities around the world by encouraging the optimal use of information
technology,” said Michael Jefferies, BCH Vice President and Chief
BCH’s extensive investments in information technology infrastructure,
data analytics, telemedicine and talented staff paid dividends when COVID-19
arrived in Boulder County.
“Digital technology has been a driver of innovation in health care
for many years now, but never to the degree that we saw in 2020 with the
pandemic,” said CHIME President and CEO Russell P. Branzell.
Enhancing the Telemedicine Platform
In response to social distancing and stay-in-place orders at the start
of the global pandemic, BCH needed to rapidly adapt its patient care operations
to limit patient and staff exposure to the coronavirus.
The BCH IT team had already implemented a telemedicine platform prior to
the pandemic. Within days of the first Colorado case of COVD-19, BCH patients
were able to continue being treated by their personal physicians through
three distinct types of virtual visits – telephone, video and secure
email. This setup and technology allowed patients to connect with their
doctors from the safety and comfort of their own homes. These virtual
appointments also added tremendous convenience for patients with pre-existing
conditions, mobility issues and transportation concerns.
“Our ability to rapidly deploy and scale a wide range of telehealth
services during the COVID-19 pandemic ensured that our community was able
to maintain critical relationships with their primary care providers and
specialists,” noted Dr. Robert Vissers, BCH President and Chief
Using IT to Monitor PPE Supplies
BCH also used its extensive IT system to constantly monitor its stockpiles
of vital personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks and gowns.
“The ability to rapidly identify in real time how many patients were
in the hospital, what equipment was being used and the consumption rate
of PPE against our supply was critical to our ability to stay ahead of
the COVID crisis in our community,” recalled Dr. Paul Hinchey, Vice
President and Chief Strategy Officer for BCH.
Battling Antibiotic Resistance with Data
Additionally, the Most Wired awards reflect BCH’s success in areas
beyond pandemic response, including its efforts to battle antibiotic resistance.
This growing public health concern occurs when germs, like bacteria and
fungi, develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them.
In most cases, antibiotic-resistant infections require longer hospital
stays and additional follow-up doctor visits.
The BCH IT team partnered with hospital pharmacists, infectious disease
specialists and hospital medicine physicians to study the use of the antibiotic
ertapenem at BCH. They culled and analyzed data from the BCH electronic
health record and distributed reports that helped physicians improve their
use of ertapenem, which is used to prevent and treat a wide variety of
“BCH is working hard to reduce unnecessary usage of broad-spectrum
antibiotics so that they remain effective when absolutely necessary,”
said Dr. Ben Keidan, Chief Medical Officer for BCH. “We used data
to lower our use of ertapenem, doing our part in the fight to prevent