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Duke University Medical Center and IBM Speed Up Access to Vital Patient Information


ARMONK, NY - 23 Jun 2006: IBM today announced that Duke University Medical Center is transforming its information technology (IT) operations to allow its 1,500-plus faculty physicians and 800-plus staff to quickly access patient medical records from any workstation at any time.

By automating the way IDs and passwords are coordinated across hospital laptops, workstations and computer kiosks, Duke Medicine is making it easier for doctors and staff at its three hospitals and clinics in the Raleigh-Durham area to update patient records, order medications and lab tests, and conduct procedures such as CAT scans and MRIs.

Clinical providers are increasingly dependent on instant access to electronic information to care for patients and cannot afford to deal with delays caused by problems involving IDs and passwords. In the emergency room, for example, doctors and nurses must have immediate access to electronic medical records so they can examine a patient’s history and obtain the information they need to make split-second decisions that will impact that patient’s life.

The IBM technology will reduce the number of IDs and passwords required, along with the hurdles of managing them, and will allow Duke Medicine staff to perform simple IT tasks themselves, like resetting passwords. This will save them from having to call the help desk and wait for support, meaning they can devote more time to caring for patients. Another benefit is that new and visiting clinicians can quickly gain access to the applications they need to perform their job, such as the hospital’s Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) system, which is used to authorize virtually anything that needs to be done for a patient, such as ordering medications or requesting lab tests.

The technology will also help Duke Medicine remain compliant with federal legislation, such as HIPAA, that dictates who should and should not have access to patients’ medical records. For example, doctors and nurses must sign on to a hospital computer to access a patient’s medical records. Should they forget to sign off, the software monitors and protects the workstation by ending inactive sessions and requiring the next user to sign on to enter the system.

“For hospitals, there can be no such thing as downtime, and technology can be so much more than just a facilitator of routine administrative tasks,” said Asif Ahmad, vice president of diagnostic services and CIO, Duke Medicine. “We view IT as a way to improve the way our hospitals operate for the well being of our patients. IBM is helping us make sure these vital systems remain operating constantly, that they remain secure, and that the right people have access to them.”

IBM is also working with Duke Medicine to make sure that the systems that house patient records and run important medical applications remain up and running. IBM technology will give Duke Medicine a clear, dashboard view of the status of its IT systems, monitoring for anything that signifies a potential problem, such as a security threat or a decrease in network performance. If a problem is detected, the software will alert IT staff so they can take immediate action and prevent failures to critical systems, such as intensive care equipment that monitors patients’ vital signs, or a server that holds medical records, which staff rely on to screen for important background information on a patient’s health, like allergies and adverse reactions to certain drugs.

“Duke Medicine sees the potential of improving patient care by reducing IT complexity and system downtime,” said Al Zollar, general manager, IBM Tivoli software. “Working with IBM, Duke Medicine is making it possible for medical professionals to access patient data freely yet securely, while ensuring systems remain up and running with software that is more proactive in finding and resolving IT problems.”

IBM Tivoli Identity Manager handles management of IDs and passwords, and also manages an application called Clinical Inbox that is used by medical transcriptionists to create dictated clinical notes. Clinical Inbox was developed in-house at Duke Medicine and runs on IBM Lotus Notes.

The ability to monitor and manage system performance is provided by IBM Tivoli Monitoring, IBM Tivoli Business Systems Manager, and IBM Tivoli Application Dependency Discovery Manager.

Duke Medicine also uses IBM Lotus Notes for email and collaboration, and relies on IBM System p servers to run most of its critical health care systems, including the Computerized Physician Order Entry system, its operating room systems, and its new ambulatory and medical records system.

About IBM
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About Duke University Medical Center
Duke University Medical Center is consistently ranked among the top ten health care organizations in the country. With hundreds of board-certified specialists and subspecialists, Duke can provide expertise in every health care discipline. Duke operates one of the country’s largest clinical and biomedical research enterprises, and quickly translates advances in technology and medical knowledge into improved patient care. For more information, visit


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