The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 incentivized the adoption of the electronic health record and fast-tracked efforts to implement electronic medical records. The program motivated hospitals to meet deadlines for achieving meaningful use and adopting a wide range of capabilities within their EMR. The benefits gained by implementing the EMR are significant and promise greater efficiency, higher quality of care and safer patients.
But, the advancement of the EMR also exposes an area of improvement: the reliability of data.
Because the greatest value of the EMR is not the data entered, but information generated by those data. And much of data entry falls on the shoulders of the clinician who is already burdened with countless other tasks on a busy shift.
Consider that clinicians capture patient data throughout the day from multiple devices, manually writing those data on a clipboard, sticky pads, paper towels, or even alcohol wipe. At a later time during the shift, they manually transcribe the data into the patient’s electronic record. The danger of this approach is the likelihood of errors, as well as the potential for omissions. Moreover, valuable time slips by, time during which critical decisions are made on data that could be hours old.
All of this activity of capturing data from various bedside devices and manually keying it into a record takes the clinicians away from direct care, all at the cost of the patient. It’s no surprise, then, that it is a challenge for a clinician to do both clinical documentation and patient assessment simultaneously, without something or someone suffering. Patient surveillance is impacted along with nursing time per patient day, affecting patient outcomes.
There is increased focus on the automation of clinical documentation, that is: the electronic transfer of data from a medical device to the EMR. As an integral part of healthcare, the integration of data with the EMR becomes more critical, evolving from a “nice to have” to a “must have”.
Medical Device Integration plays a critical role in improving the quality of patient data by automating its timely transfer– from vital sign monitors, for example – to the EMR. However, it’s not solely limited to vital sign monitors. Other devices can be integrated such as ventilators, balloon pumps, dialysis machines, blood gas monitors, anesthesia machines, enteral pumps, smart beds, etc. This automation allows data to flow directly from a device at the point-of-care to the patient’s record.
Most important, though, is that this is a winning proposition for all parties involved. EMRs receive near real-time, reliable device data – data that best reflects a patient’s condition at a given point in time – while clinicians can reinvest their time at the bedside, improving patient outcomes and overall patient and clinician experiences.