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Western North Carolina Health Network
Western North Carolina Health Network
The Western North Carolina Health Network covers 16 area hospitals.
Up front cost: $3.5 million
Annual service contract: $400,000

By 2001, the chief information officers of all Western North Carolina Health Network's 16 hospitals met to talk about the growing number -- and problem -- of intra-network patient referrals.

Hospitals would fax medical records over, and, like Memorial Hospital, would tuck records under patients' arms as they were being helicoptered off.

Now, if a patient of one of the hospitals arrives at a triage center, the network's system collates all of the patient's information and puts it in a standardized format for the physician within five seconds.

And unlike most other hospital networks of its size, WNC was able to keep costs down. WNC went live with EHR in February 2006, which was earlier than most, and found that vendors were offering relatively low prices so they could showcase their work.

Implementation cost WNC just $3.5 million up front. And after the hospital received $1 million of private funds from the Duke Endowment and $2.5 million in a federal grant, the total upfront cost was zero.

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Last updated July 31 2009: 3:54 AM ET
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