RALEIGH – UNC Rex Healthcare is one of only five hospitals in North Carolina – and the only Triangle representative – to crack the latest Top Hospitals list from Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization seeking to drive improvements in healthcare. And technology is one of the reasons the Raleigh-based hospital is on the list.

“At UNC Rex, and across the UNC Health Care system, we are constantly looking for innovative ways to improve care and safety,” said Dr. Linda Butler, UNC Rex’s chief medical officer. “We also strive to use technology to make it easier for our providers to deliver the highest quality of care.”

Only 120 of some 2,100 hospitals made the Leapfrog list, which recognized the healthcare providers based on numerous criteria ranging from safety to infection rates, practices for safer surgery, maternity care, and prevention of medication errors.

“Leapfrog is honored to spotlight the hospitals across the nation that have truly gone above and beyond in their pursuit of excellence. Our Top Hospital award, one of the most prestigious in the U.S., recognizes hospitals for ensuring their facilities prioritize safety and quality in patient care,” said Leah Binder, CEO of The Leapfrog Group, in announcing the list. “The standards achieved by Top Hospitals reflect the high expectations set by Leapfrog and its expert panels, which starts with a commitment to transparency.”

Rex recently unveiled a new app designed to provide patients and families with a variety of information such as directions via smartphones. That’s just one example of the hospital’s technology efforts. Rex Ventures, a venture capital investment group, also looks to provide capital for promising medical technology startups.

New UNC Health Care app helps patients navigate campuses, access health data

“UNC Rex Healthcare uses technology in a variety of ways to improve care, enhance outcomes, track safety measurements and more,” a spokesperson tells WRAL TechWire.

“As one example, the hospital is using electronic medical records and data analytics to improve how to assign patients to beds more efficiently. Those technology tools can help patients more quickly from the Emergency Department to the ICU or an inpatient bed, and then get discharged for home. Shorter wait times throughout the hospital journey mean better care, a better patient experience and lower costs.

“Another example is a software tool that the UNC Rex Hospitalist team recently developed with some of our IT experts called the ‘Equalizer.’ It’s technology that more evenly distributes patients among our hospitalists based on factors such as complexity, how the patient came to the hospital, age and more. The software improves care for patients and helps reduce physician burnout.

“The Equalizer technology has been so successful at UNC Rex that hospitalist teams at other hospitals affiliated with UNC Health are considering adapting the tool at their facilities. The technology also won a ‘shark tank’ competition at the Society for Hospitalist Medicine’s annual conference earlier this year.”

REX was recognized among the 55 “Top Teaching” hospitals along with Novant Health Thomasville Medical Center.

Education programs include:

  • cardiology
  • vascular and urogynecology fellows
  • medical students who work with the Hospitalist team
  • students studying nursing, pharmacy, radiology, EMT

“UNC Rex is honored to be recognized by Leapfrog as one of the nation’s top hospitals,” said Ernie Bovio, president of UNC Rex, in a statement. “I’m proud of our co-workers and physicians for providing excellent care for our patients and their families, and helping to train the next generation of clinical providers.”

Recently, Rex also received “straight As” from another Leapfrog study for safety. It has done so each year since the grading program launched in 2012 and is one of just 36 hospitals to do so.

Rex, which has more than 7,000 employees, is part of UNC Health Care, and operates facilities in Apex, Cary, Garner, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Wakefield as well as its headquarters campus in Raleigh.

Novant hospitals also on list

Three other Novant hospitals were recognized in the “General” category:

  • Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center
  • Novant Health Matthews Medical Center
  • Novant Health Medical Park Hospital

Read the full report online.