Innovation and expansion are common themes among the San Diego Business Journal’s list of 21 local hospitals.

The criterion used to rank the Hospital list is the number of beds as of 2010, the latest data available from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

The Veterans Administration is working closely with Kaiser Permanente, No. 8 on the list, on a pilot health and information program in San Diego that enables clinicians from the VA and Kaiser to obtain a more comprehensive view of a patient’s health, according to Kaiser.

“The implementation of our world-class electronic health record, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect, has shaped and improved how our physicians and care teams treat patients,” said Phil Fasano, executive vice president and chief information officer at Kaiser.

The VA is also working with UCSD in an effort to establish a HIE, Health Information Exchange, in San Diego based on the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).

The much-anticipated completion of the Palomar Medical Center in west Escondido, No. 6 on the list, is expected in early April.

“That’s when we get the keys and finish our inspection and start moving furniture in,” said Leonel Sanchez, media relations manager. “The hospital is set to open to the first patient in late August 2012.”

In addition to the completion of the new hospital facility, members of the medical staff have been at work on the software side of their business.

Ben Kanter, Palomar chief medical information officer and critical care doctor, has been developing a mobile-enabled app dubbed MIAA (Medical Information Anywhere Anytime). The app has been in beta stage with dummy records and is set for a live pilot in March. The app was specifically designed for the physician on the go.

“We wanted to build it out for a smartphone, but most of the records are designed for big computer screens, we wanted to shrink it down for a mobile phone to better fit the traditional workflow of a doctor,” Kanter said. “We reformulated it so the doctor has one way to look at the information with the fingertip controls that he or she is used to with their smartphones.”

Kanter described that when a physician is not in the hospital and cannot access a patient’s records to determine next steps, the conversations can be long and complicated.

“Physicians are data driven and it’s important have that data be within the context of the chart,” Kanter said. “The idea is to improve a physician’s performance and (to provide) better safety for the patient.”

Jacobs Medical Center

UC San Diego Health System, No. 3 on the list, is expecting to break ground on the Jacobs Medical Center in April.

“We estimate this will bring more than 750 new hospital jobs to San Diego,” said Jacqueline Carr, director of press and media relations — clinical.

Featuring ‘smart walls’ in patients rooms, the wall-sized video screens allow patients to watch TV, check medical records, video-conference with doctors or Skype with anyone anywhere in the world, according to the building’s website. A Wii-like system will bring exercises for physical therapy right to their bed.

UC San Diego is also deeply involved locally in the Health Information Exchange program. A member of the San Diego Beacon Collaborative, a project funded by the Obama administration to integrate health IT into patient care, UCSD was just awarded the prestigious Stage 7 Award from the Health Information and Management Systems Society Analytics (HIMSS), a nationwide system used to track electronic medical records progress, for their work in this area.

Other hospitals involved in the San Diego Beacon Collaborative are Rady Children’s Hospital, No. 5 on the list; Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, No. 13 on the list, Sharp Community Medical Group and Children’s Primary Care Medical Center.

Anupam Goel, co-principal investigator for the Collaborative and associate professor of medicine at UCSD said for the system to be effective and provide the highest level of care to everyone, the patient needs to consent to allow his or her records to be shared.

“This consent is crucial to improve care coordination among providers, avoid redundant testing and ultimately reduce health care costs,” Goel said.