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Emergency Department Information Systems

Focus on the goal: Be most effi cient

How an EDIS can be used to support change. By Tracy Dougthy

I goal.

Provide the best possible care in the most effi cient manner

Decisions made in Huntsville Hospital’s emergency depart- ments are driven by the goal of quality patient care. Being more effi cient means doing things faster without sacrifi cing patient satisfaction.

As an 881-bed, not-for-profi t institution, Huntsville Hospital is the second largest hospital in Alabama, with more than 6,500 employees and a medical staff with more than 700 physicians. Huntsville Hospital serves as the major referral hospital and trauma center for patients throughout the Tennessee Valley. The hospital also operates Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children, one of only three pediatric hospitals in Alabama. More than 150,000 patients are treated each year in Hunts- ville Hospital’s three EDs: an 85-bed adult ED, a 16-bed pedi- atric ED and a nine-bed urgent care in Madison, Ala., which will become an ED when the Madison Hospital opens in 2012. On a daily basis, care is given to more than 400 patients each day, and over 25 percent of all hospital admissions come through one of Huntsville Hospital’s EDs.

Such a busy ED requires attention to the processes that are in place with the goal of continual process improvement, in order to continue to provide the quality of patient care Huntsville Hospital is known for. Huntsville Hospital is able to seamlessly incorporate changes, whether a state or federal mandate, a hospital-wide process improvement or a revision of an existing ED process.

Where to start: The right foundation

An emergency department information system (EDIS) can have a dramatic effect on patient wait times, length of stay and elopements and can also provide a solid foundation on which to build and refi ne process improvements to achieve effi ciency goals.

16 December 2011

ED process improvement

Hospital process improvement

State/federal mandate

n a world where emergency departments (EDs) must rise to meet the challenges of overcrowding, longer patient wait times, regulatory changes and economic demands, hospitals must fi nd a way to keep focused on the needs and satisfac- tion of their patients, clinicians and hospital administration. Huntsville Hospital has found a way: Focus on a common


Provide the best possible care in the most effi cient manner

OBJECTIVE Improve effi ciency

KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS Track and monitor results Identify variances

Identify areas for improvement

A common goal unites the team. Objectives help guide day-to- day operations and provide a framework for decision-making; key performance indicators provide a means to measure and manage success.

In 2006, a multi-disciplinary team identifi ed, evaluated and selected an EDIS that would become the foundation for improv- ing ED effi ciency. Wellsoft EDIS was the choice. Huntsville Hospital would have a standards-based platform that would allow them to easily incorporate new or refi ne existing processes, whether clinical or administrative.

Initially used to automate triage and patient tracking, the

benefi ts of automating more processes by using Wellsoft EDIS became apparent. Wellsoft clinical documentation was added in 2008 for quick, legible and complete documentation of patient care. Electronic order entry, or CPOE, was added in 2010. Us- ing HL7 interfaces, laboratory, radiology and cardiology orders were sent electronically from Wellsoft EDIS to ancillary hospital systems and real-time results are tracked automatically. Implementing changes to become more effi cient has had a positive effect on patient wait times, length of stay and elope- ments.


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