WEST MONROE, Louisiana (March 26, 2008) – At Glenwood Regional Medical Center, technology often seen outside the healthcare environment, like computers on weeks and bar code scanners are now playing a vital role in communicating the most up-to-date, accurate information about patients to their caregivers.
“We’re using rolling computers at the bedside to input vital signs and patient assessments and to view test results” said Debbie Blair, chief nursing officer at Glenwood. “With the computers, our nurses can work through the so-called paperwork faster than before – and they can do it without having to use paper at all.”
By replacing paper with computerized patient records, nurses can be more efficient at patient charting which means they have more time for direct patient care.
Electronic documentation of patient records has many benefits. As information is added to the patient’s file, the computerized record becomes instantaneously available to all of the people responsible for a patient’s care and treatment. It means a nurse can be entering a patient’s clinical data on the computer at the patient’s bedside, while a physician is viewing that up-to-the-minute information from his office across the street.
Using secured Internet access, physicians can log-on to the hospital system from anywhere, anytime, and view the latest information about their patients.
Patients and physicians both benefit from this unique technology. Physicians can stay informed about a patient’s care from the office or from home in the evenings. Because of the instantaneous access to patient information, they are treated more proactively and physician visits to the patient are more meaningful since the physician is better informed.
The electronic documentation system can also pull important information directly from medical devices, such as ventilators and cardiac monitors, and add that information right into the patient’s record. It can create “to do” lists that allow nurses to review every step of a patient’s care, such as medications and IVs, to ensure no task is inadvertently forgotten. It can issue alerts that new information has been added to the patient’s file or to signal a development that requires a nurse’s attention.”
Having quick, easy access to relevant information through a computerized patient record should also lead to better customer service and a higher level of patient satisfaction.
IASIS Healthcare, which owns Glenwood Regional Medical Center, has made a $40 million commitment to add advanced clinical technology to all its hospitals. Recently, Glenwood also added a bar-code scanning system to match patients with their medications. The same technology that assures the right price at a grocery checkout lane is now helping to assure the patients at Glenwood are getting the right medicines at the right time.
“Every time we give a patient a medication, we scan a bar code on the medication, and then we scan a bar code on the patient’s hospital wristband,” said Debbie Blair. “The system checks to be sure everything is right-that it is the right medicine, in the right dose, being given to the right patient, at the right time, in the right way, and if not, a warning screen comes on alerting the nurse to stop.”
The system not only checks medication accuracy at the time the drug is administered, it also alerts nurses when a medication is about to be missed. And, it automatically charges the medication to the patient’s bill, to ensure that patients are charged accurately for the drugs they receive.
A major study in 1999 from the Institute of Medicine revealed that medication errors killed up to 98,000 people every year. Hospitals that have added bar code scanning as a part of the medication administration process report reductions in medication errors.
“We’re very proud of the steps we’re taking to become a high-tech hospital with the tools physicians and nurses need to deliver excellent healthcare,” said Ron Elder, chief executive officer at Glenwood. “And, we’re combining this technology with a caring, compassionate approach to how we treat our patients. That’s good for everyone.”