Improving access to patient information is a fundamental goal driving adoption of electronic medical record (EMR) systems – and for achieving meaningful use under HITECH guidelines. That’s why placement of EMR access points is a critical issue for supporting workflows – and why CIOs and IT staffs must make it a top priority.
Access becomes increasingly important as a hospital progresses through the HIMSS Adoption Model. Demands rise dramatically with deployment of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) and bar code medication administration (BCMA). CPOE improves quality by reducing wait times for approvals and providing real-time alerts for the nursing staff – assuming they are tapped into the EMR system. Advancing to BCMA promises to reduce risks of medication errors. However, it requires access to scanners, printers and other tools caregivers need at the point of care.
An effective access-point strategy must also support a safe, ergonomic workplace that enables caregivers to focus on patients rather than “hunting and gathering” the tools and information they need. Most nurses walk many miles per shift. With good planning, they will not need to add to that total looking for an open computer to enter or view patient information.
An effective access-point strategy must also support a safe, ergonomic workplace...
Most hospitals are deploying mobile workstations as the primary access points because they offer the mobility, compact design and ease of use essential to bringing technology to the point of care. Wall-mounted systems provide an effective alternative for some settings. For instance, it may not be possible to bring a workstation in and out of a sterile unit. There can also be a place for tablets and smart phones, though there are limitations on broader use. Finding the right mix of solutions – and ensuring they are in the right places as part of a well-integrated plan – is essential to meeting goals.
Here are three steps to help your facility develop a successful access strategy:
- Initial workflow audit. As part of launch planning process, a thorough review of workflows will help identify the number and type of access points that are needed to support desired clinical outcomes. The audit will identify challenges in each unit ranging from space limitations to type of medical procedures to be performed to determine needs and best options.
- Quarterly review. After launch, it is essential to stay in close communication with frontline caregivers to find out what is – and isn’t – working. In many cases, minor refinements – changing the number of workstations deployed to units, or moving a wall-mounted unit so caregivers can more easily face patients while providing care – can make a major difference.
- Long-term strategy. Your initial launch must provide a strong foundation for the ongoing evolution of your EMR system as more technology is required at the point of care – all the way to stage 7 of the HIMSS model and the “paperless hospital.”
As you develop your access strategy, consider hiring an outside partner that offers in-depth expertise in point-of-care solutions. Given the wide range of options, the right vendor can help you make the right decisions to support improved clinical outcomes.
We’d like to hear from you – what is your top concern when it comes to access and meaningful use? Share your thoughts here below.