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 EMR / EHR

Focusing on the patient experience

Medical device integration makes electronic medical records more valuable.

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   By Stuart Long, Capsule Tech Inc., October 2012

Stuart Long, Capsule Tech Inc.We hear so much about EMRs and their role in meeting meaningful-use requirements; but it’s important to note that the main goal of any technology in the hospital setting, including the EMR, is to improve outcomes and the patient experience. Medical device connectivity is no different. It plays a pivotal supporting role in making EMRs valuable and, ultimately, in improving time at the bedside, patient care and outcomes. Measuring “value” can sometimes be challenging, as it means different things to different people or departments. Ultimately for hospitals, it comes down to whether or not the technology is improving the patient experience. 

The EMR cannot be all things to all people; and to be fair, it wasn’t designed to be. There are a number of technologies that need to be in place to more effectively manage the various clinical and administrative functions that improve patient experience. To steal an analogy my colleague recently used, asking the EMR alone to improve patient care is like asking a car engine to run without spark plugs, fuel or oil that support the function of the engine. EMRs require the same support from technologies, such as medical device connectivity, CPOE and others to provide its intended value.

As hospitals strive for EMR adoption, the tools and the foresight into clinician workflow are top priorities. Medical device integration (MDI) is one tool that helps lessen the adjustment for clinicians and adds value rather than adding steps to the daily workflow. It provides hospitals and clinicians with the means to reduce charting time by sending data directly from devices to the EMR and, therefore, eliminating the manual charting process and, in turn, eliminating charting errors, duplication and workarounds. It can even enable near-real-time data delivery to the EMR to improve decision making by care-management staff.

Benefits such as these are what truly enable the EMR to improve the patient experience. But how do hospitals get to this point? The only way to really see the benefits of the EMR from the outset is to develop a strategic plan that begins with an enterprise strategy and evaluates not only how the EMR will improve efficiency within the hospital, but how clinical staff and patients are affected by the technology.

The key is developing a strategy from two key building blocks:

  1. Include nurses and clinicians in the technology selection and planning stages. On average, nurses have more interaction with patients throughout the care process than physicians. This would naturally lend itself to nurses using the technology more frequently, which ultimately drives further adoption as familiarity with the technology grows. As a result of their extensive use of health IT and clinical expertise, nurses are prime candidates to take stronger leadership roles in hospital settings. The increasing number of chief nursing officers (CNOs) and chief nursing informatics officers (CNIOs) in hospitals is a good example of this.
  2. Ensure technologies that provide automated, near-real-time data to the EMR align with existing nurse and clinician workflow. Technology should be a part of the environment in a hospital room, not detract attention from the patient. This allows nurses and other care providers to focus on the patient with the confidence of knowing (in the case of MDI) that all of the patient’s data is being collected and stored automatically and sent to the patient’s record, waiting for validation once the nurse charts – after all of the patient’s needs have been met. 

When a hospital has the technology to provide accurate and timely data to the EHR, that data can be used to react in patient care situations and to predict and prevent certain healthcare risks and outcomes for larger patient populations, furthering the reach and quality of care.

Imagine the ability to take collected data and compare, contrast and analyze it from multiple sources and then deliver it back to caregivers in a meaningful way. This is how the patient experience will truly be impacted positively, and it begins with hospitals giving the EMR the tools it needs to make an impact.

For more on Capsule Tech Inc.: click here.


Tags:  EMR / EHR