Posted by: Jenny Laurello
CPOE, EHR, electronic health record, Electronic medical record, EMR, Meaningful use, MU
Guest post by: Brian McAlpine, Director, Strategic Products, Capsule Tech, Inc.
The electronic medical record (EMR) is widely seen as a tool that will increase the efficiency of hospitals and physician practices and improve patient care, mainly because of its ability to help automate and streamline the clinician’s workflow and generate a complete record of a clinical patient encounter. The EMR is the main ingredient in meeting the multiple stages of meaningful use requirements attached to the release of ARRA stimulus funds; funds that are being released to health care organizations that can demonstrate improved safety and quality of care. Hospitals, however, are realizing that “meaningful” health care IT reform goes far beyond the EMR.
Essentially, the EMR stores mass amounts of data about individual patients or populations. This data is shared across different health care settings to streamline workflow for physicians, nurses and other clinicians. The EMR alone, however, is not enough to fully improve hospital efficiency and patient care. One problem that exists is = documentation. Clinicians have reported over and over that when an EMR is implemented that their documentation workload doubles. Why? Because they not only have to manually write down the vitals, but then manually enter them into the patient’s electronic record. Not to mention that there are often delays in getting the data into the EMR and there is an increased potential for errors with manual entry. As more hospitals implement EMRs, they need to find a way to reverse this paradigm.
Medical device connectivity solves these challenges. It automatically captures vital signs data from biomedical devices, such as patient monitors and ventilators, and automatically sends the data to the receiving information system or EMR. This means that documentation errors are greatly reduced and, therefore, nurses spend less time on documentation. Connectivity enables them to focus more on caring for patients. And while these benefits are enough reason to justify the implementation of medical device connectivity, the technology also increases the adoption of the EMR by clinical staff and helps hospitals qualify for meaningful use.
Stage 1 requirements of meaningful use include the objective of “recording vital signs and charting changes” and “using CPOE.” Medical device connectivity enables hospitals to quickly and easily prove that they are in fact recording these vital signs and charting changes because vitals are automatically sent to the EMR.
As for CPOE, medical device connectivity helps physicians and care management staff with their CPOE efforts because they have more timely access to more accurate vitals. Stage 2 and 3 requirements of meaningful use are also being handed down and proposed from the government. Current additional objectives that could be met with device integration for stage 2 and 3 include “recording clinical documentation in the EMR” and “medical device interoperability.” Recording clinical documentation is obvious but interoperability can be achieved when hospitals implement a vendor neutral connectivity solution. Why? Because a vendor neutral solution enables the connection of virtually any medical device to any information system, which in essence makes these devices and systems interoperable.
Honestly, there is really no debate that the benefits of the EMR far outweigh any negatives. There is debate over whether it alone can fully improve hospital efficiency and patient care. Device integration helps hospitals achieve this. Its implementation automates the vitals collection process and removes the nurse as the bridge between devices and systems so they can focus on patient care. The end result of implementing medical device connectivity is a win-win for hospitals. It makes the EMR more useful, delivers perceived value to the hospital faster and increases the adoption of the EMR by clinical staff, saving them time and improving patient care. Not only does this take hospitals far beyond the limits of the EMR, it sets the stage for continued evolution in health care IT reform.
For more information, please visit www.capsuletech.com.