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CRMC receives national recognition

How many times have you anxiously waited for a status update on your loved one in a waiting room? Sitting and wondering whether or not you could leave to go to the bathroom or to grab a quick bite to eat for fear of missing an update from the doctor or nurse. At Cullman Regional Medical Center, family members of patients undergoing surgery, no longer have to worry and wait for updates thanks to a new Electronic Surgery Tracking System created by the hospital’s Information Technology Department.

The new system keeps staff, physicians and family members informed on a patient’s progress. When patients come into the Medical Center for a surgical procedure they now receive a PIN number during registration. They can share this PIN number with family and friends who are waiting on status updates. After a patient is taken back for pre-operative care their PIN number appears on the tracking screen in the surgery waiting room. Their family and friends can watch as their number moves across a screen as they transition from check-in, to surgery, to recovery and out of recovery.

“Now families no longer have to wonder about whether or not their loved one’s surgery has begun or finished,” says CRMC Director of Surgical Services Dewight Davis, RN. “We’ve taken the guesswork out for the family and hopefully alleviated some of the anxiety for them as well.”

Prior to the new E-tracking system, CRMC’s Surgical Department communicated like most other surgical departments in the United States with dry-erase boards and telephone calls being the primary tools for communication between departments. The ingenuity of the project team allowed CRMC to replace the high volume of telephone calls for status updates with a real-time, on-screen patient tracking solution. This new process eliminates many repetitive phone calls for giving and receiving updates and provides the additional benefit of visual cues to other departments as each stage of patient preparation is complete.

“This improved communication has allowed the staff to work more efficiently and reduce wait times for our patients. Now patients’ family members can follow along by watching the tracking board and know approximately when their loved one will be ready for visitors,” CRMC Vice President of Patient Care/Chief Nursing Officer Cheryl Bailey, RN, BSN, MBA said. “Patients and families have really enjoyed the new process.”

The end result was a five department specific touch screen system that allowed all parties to communicate more efficiently with each other and the patient’s loved ones. This innovative system has recently been named one of the nation’s Most Wired Innovator Award, according to the results of the 2012 Most Wired Survey released in the July issue of Hospital & Health Networks magazine.

According to the survey, the nation’s Most Wired hospitals are leveraging the adoption and use of health information technology (IT) to improve performance in a number of areas and are focused on expanding and adopting IT that protects patient data and optimizes patient flow and communication.

“This was a giant leap for our small IT Department.” CRMC Information Technology Department Director Nancy Zavatchen said. “We were fortunate to have a programming team, a highly skilled network/ hardware team and lots of imagination and resourcefulness to figure out new and innovative ways to use what we already had.”

The CRMC Surgery Electronic Tracking System, created locally by CRMC Information Technology professionals, has since attracted the interest of a large metropolitan hospital’s surgery department who wants to purchase and put this system in use at their facility.

“The reward is the reception and use of the product, the smiles that our team receives each day and the gratitude of our patient’s families as they wait for word on their loved one,” Zavatchen said. “We are taking challenges and turning them into opportunities that support our hospital and community . . . while all the time learning and enjoying the rich benefits of what technology has given the world of healthcare.”

Health Care’s Most Wired Survey, conducted between January 15 and March 15, asked hospitals and health systems nationwide to answer questions regarding their Information Technology (IT) initiatives. Respondents completed 662 surveys, representing 1,570 hospital or roughly 27 percent of all US hospitals. The July H&HN cover story detailing results is available at www.hhnmag.com.

 

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