Mobile Solution Gives Doctors Easier Access to Patient Data
Innovative health systems around the world are rapidly adopting new technologies designed to improve patient care and access to clinical data. But even with these technology advances, healthcare professionals are struggling to deal with information overload and cumbersome systems.
Cabrini, a private, not-for-profit health service in Australia, saw that clinicians were frustrated with having to access multiple hospital information systems during the course of patient care. Cabrini wanted to streamline access so that doctors could find everything they needed via a single, mobile interface.
CSC developed the CSC Mobility Suite by leveraging existing information available in the hospitals’ patient administration system (CSC webPAS). The CSC webPAS system has evolved over many years and provided a solid foundation for the mobile solution.
After seeing the initial concept, Cabrini purchased the system and then worked with CSC to test and refine the solution with input from their clinicians. The Mobility Suite creates a mobile electronic medical record (EMR) available anywhere — on or off hospital campuses — via 3G and WiFi networks.
“All of our doctors are motivated to provide the best care they can, and our job is to give them the tools to facilitate that,” says Simon Woods, executive director of medical services at Cabrini. “With Mobility Suite, we have given them the start of an EMR.” Creating a single interface for disparate data Cabrini is home to six facilities with more than 800 beds, two acute-care hospitals, two rehabilitation hospitals and a residential care facility. Cabrini implemented CSC webPAS as the single, integrated backbone of the organization’s information system.
With the new patient administration system in place, it became possible to see the location of each patient. But access to clinical patient information was still an issue. While several patient records were available electronically, access to each required going to the particular application, logging on, looking up the patient’s unit record and finally seeing the result.
The same process occurred for each new patient or result. Other results were stored in files at nursing stations. For clinicians, ward rounds involved gathering information in an effort to understand each patient’s current state. Because time was wasted searching for patient information, decision making was delayed.
CSC technologist Brian Ackland conceived of and designed the CSC Mobility Suite solution.
“I designed the Mobility Suite after watching how nurses record vital signs on paper medical records, drawing dots and lines to chart the progress of blood pressure, pulse and temperature,” he says. “The bottom line for a clinical system is that it improves patient care, and the side effect is that it improves the efficiency of both doctors and nurses in the provision of care.”
Building a BYOD healthcare environment
Hospitals are looking to minimize capital expenses and ownership of mobile devices among doctors is high. So a mobile solution where medical professionals can “bring your own device” is an optimal scenario. At Cabrini, use of Mobility Suite is voluntary, and participating clinicians supply their own devices to connect via the existing CSC webPAS system to laboratory, radiology, picture archiving and communication system imaging, and bedside monitoring systems.
The suite aggregates information from an existing Web-based system, which provides advantages in that the data is stored on a Web server and not on the mobile device itself. This means a log-in is required, which is desirable for security purposes.
CSC’s Ackland used Apple’s iOS interface guide to get design clues. But the application is not a classic iPhone app that can be downloaded from the App Store. Users simply type in a URL and bookmark the site.
The suite’s mobile patient-management and clinical-management features include medical record tracking, graphical views of hospital capacity by ward or unit, comprehensive bed availability and structured patient lists. In addition, doctors can record vital signs via a simple touch-screen interface and access diagnostic results with color-coded flags for quick identification of unread or abnormal results.
With these capabilities available at the touch of a screen, officials at Cabrini are highly pleased with CSC’s work. “The most obvious and immediate benefit we’re seeing is much faster and more convenient access to information for clinical decision making, which means we can provide even better care for our patients and their families,” says Woods.
Tapping into the hospital’s IT backbone
By bringing information to the patient’s bedside, the CSC Mobility Suite significantly improves communication between doctors and patients at Cabrini.
The Mobility Suite brings information from several sources together in a single view. Patient records are displayed immediately at the touch of a screen. Using the Clinical Viewer feature, doctors and nurses can access health records such as vital signs in an instant. And if a change in a vital sign is a cause for concern, the doctor can receive an automatic alert.
Remote monitoring of patients is also improved. Instead of calling the ward to check for results, Cabrini doctors can now prepare for their workday before they leave home by accessing clinical information when they are offsite.
Dr. Jamie McDonald, director of Cabrini’s Hospital-in-the-Home service, which allows some patients to receive care at home, says, “The Clinical Viewer brings our whole Hospital-in-the-Home team together by allowing us to view and share the most up-to-date information, whether in the office or out on the road. It greatly improves our patients’ safety.”
Uptake of Mobility Suite was voluntary, but rapid, and it exceeded expectations. By January 2012, a total of 320 individual users at Cabrini were accessing Mobility Suite to review some 20,000 patient results via their mobile devices.
Cabrini is now rolling CSC Mobility Suite out to its Hospital-in the-Home service, to allow progress notes to be made directly on iPads. For users on the wards, the next step is to enable the system for observation recordings and medication orders.
Jim Battey is a writer on CSC’s digital marketing team.