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Workfl ow Management Enhancing nursing productivity

through mobile computing solutions Mobile computing and medication solutions allow nurses more time at patient bedsides.

T By Jeffrey Chochinov

Jeffrey Chochinov is director of global business development for Rubbermaid Medical Solutions.

For more information on Rubbermaid Medical Solutions:

he simplest concepts often make the biggest differ- ences in patient care. Nursing workfl ow is a prime example. Requiring nurses to walk back and forth to a nursing station, supply room or medication room dozens of times every shift does not improve nursing productivity or enhance patient care; enabling nurses to spend more time at a patient’s bedside, however, does both. Mobile computing and medication delivery worksta- tions can greatly simplify nurs- ing workfl ows, lending greater effi ciency to patient care pro- cesses by bringing powerful information technologies – in- cluding electronic health and

medication administration records (EHR and eMAR) – as well as secure medication storage to the bedside. Studies have shown that making full use of these mobile solutions signifi cantly improves patient care and patient safety. For example, a mobile medication cabinet linked to a bar- code point-of-care medication administration system piloted at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center in South Carolina increased nurses’ time for face-to-face patient interaction, documentation and other productive patient care activities by 28 percent. This was achieved largely by loading most medications needed at the beginning of each shift into a secure mobile cabinet, thus eliminating the need for nurses to queue at the medication room. It also greatly reduced the incidence of late medication administration, which was a particular problem at the beginning of shifts. More recently, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hos- pital in Boston found that a bar-code medication administra- tion system reduced medication errors by half – and virtually eliminated medication documentation errors (Poon E et al. N Engl J Med. 2010 May 6; 362(18): 1698-707). Similarly, documentation of vital signs and other clinical observations and processes at the bedside has been shown to increase the accuracy and timeliness of care notes (Wager K et al. Comput Inform Nurs. 2010 Jul-Aug; 28(4): 205-12). Our own analysis suggests that for nurses caring for six patients, trips for charting and medication retrieval can be reduced by 90 percent or more using mobile systems instead of fi xed, centralized stations. Not only do mobile systems optimize nursing workfl ow, they also keep medication secure

all the way to the patient, and when coupled with bar-code eMAR and EHR, enable automated documentation and charge capture at the point of care.

The bottom line is that mobile computing and medica- tion solutions allow more time at the patient bedside. They go beyond point-of-care information access and become a mobile desk, supply room and medication room all in one. They are a personal workspace able to travel with each nurse through a busy shift, resulting in a safer and more satisfying care experience for both patients and nurses, with better clinical outcomes, better care documentation, lower costs and fewer lost charges. For maximum efficiency and effectiveness, mobile computing solutions should not only provide nurses with the ability to document when and where they choose, they should also have a convenient footprint that further allows customization to individual needs and workfl ow preferences. This can be accomplished through: • Keyboards and monitors adjustable to any sitting or stand- ing height.

• Storage for supplies (syringes, bandages, alcohol wipes, etc.).

• Spaces for personalized “cheat sheets” and reference tools, or clear document covers under which nurses slip needed information.

• Secure drawers that allow medication administration to multiple patients before returning to the medication room.

Mobile systems also must be fl exible enough to evolve over time as nursing workfl ow continues to incorporate new documentation methods and bedside technologies. In- novative processes will be needed to permit nurses to both effectively interact with patients and preserve contact with physicians and other clinical team members in decentralized workforce environments – all while using computerized systems.

Mobile computing solutions generally are evaluated in conjunction with broader information technology goals. As information technology develops, it is important not to lose sight of opportunities, but to improve long-established workfl ow patterns. Mobile, point-of-care computing solu- tions provide a way to effectively leverage information technology to advance both nursing productivity and patient care quality.


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